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RaBir FF - Recasting the Princess CH 11 pg8 03/12 (Page 6)

crtkelly IF-Dazzler
crtkelly
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Posted: 15 July 2016 at 8:27pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by Sharlene1410

As usual i enjoyed the update Star that Kunal guy i don't trust
Ra is moving subconsciously moving closer to KT and the kids, poor Ra is so confused.
Continue soon Kelly
Thank you Sharlene. I will defer commenting on Kunal for now, but you are correct in your assessment of Rachna's actions.

I hope you enjoy the next update which is coming up. Aiming for another chapter this weekend and then to increase the frequency, as I am exactly one month away from vacation, and am hoping to have this story finished by then... Smile 

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Sharlene1410

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Posted: 15 July 2016 at 8:28pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by DLSR

kabir bhaiya ko naomi behen blackmail kar rahi hai Wink
kelly didi update was very dilicious *licking my toungue*
hum update ke bhuke logon ko update jaldi dete rahiye.LOL

Thank youSmile, new update coming up...and a second one before the end of the weekend
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Posted: 15 July 2016 at 9:06pm | IP Logged

Chapter #6

Kabir made it a point to spend the next morning in the main studio. As much as he would like to have spent the duration of his time near his wife, he did have a business to run and a new season to prepare for. Particularly now that Rachna was back on track with her work - the completion of Banaras Beauty's second collection, he could finally focus on his own efforts. Thankfully, the senior designer he had taken on had been able take the reins during this challenging period, and kept everything running on course. Ultimately, though, the onus was on him to bring it all together: to assure that the design process met his strict deadlines, and most especially, that the finished product adhered to the standard that KT Creations was renowned for.

 Additionally, he had on his to-do list, to check up on the new interns today. As in previous years he was certain that they had selected an earnest and capable bunch, and he had a vested interest in aiding these young people in their development and advancement in their chosen field. Obviously their attaining this first post  didn't necessarily guarantee them success in the fashion industry, however  immodestly he could cite past examples of both Rachna and most recently  his wife's own assistant, Arpita , as definite achievers who had come through the ranks to accomplish so much. Clearly, any future success would in the end, depend on their individual industry, however, whether any of the three selected this year stayed on with the company or not, Kabir was determined that in return for their efforts, he would afford them the best of his proffessional support . He didn't think that he was being biased, but he was especially keen to monitor the only male intern of the group - the first since his return back to Banaras in fact. Needless to say, with everything on his agenda, it made for a hectic morning. But for the first time in months, the busy environment, felt the norm. Somewhere in the mid-morning hours, he took a slight break, deciding that he would contact Rachna and invite her to have lunch. Perhaps they could order in and discuss the design she had expected to have finished this morning, he thought briefly before his attention was drawn away with another matter requiring his consideration.

***********

There had been no answer when Rachna first telephoned on the internal line, nor when she had left her office and knocked Kabir's door. Since she would be leaving momentarily for her break, Rachna didn't have the time to seek him out, so she took it upon herself to enter the empty office. She figured that the designer wouldn't have any objection to her leaving the completed sketch for his perusal as he was expecting it by this afternoon anyway. They could discuss it on her return if he was available. That made perfect sense. Or so she told herself, as she spent precious moments studying Kabir's space, instead of just placing the sketch on his desk and leaving. Who was Kabir Tripathi, she deliberated as she studied his environment. Evident by the numerous awards and commendations hanging on the walls, his stature as a designer was second to none. But this wasn't what called to her: what she felt compelled to know.  In hopes of trying to understand the man behind the fame, she needed something more personal.  However, although there was much to catch the eye in terms of design apparatus, the room was completely devoid of anything that would lend any intimate knowledge of the man. It made no sense to her: even if it was something miniscule, everyone kept something personal; something that meant something to them in their personal work-space. But not Kabir Tripathi it seemed.  She thought back to the information Naomi had relayed to her last night:  the scandalous circumstances that had led to the dissolution of his parents' marriage followed tragically by the untimely death of the young boy's father. Of course this had to adversely affect the impressionable youth - how could it not? Yet somehow, with the support of his remaining family, he had persevered... he had achieved... and still he had grown to become the compassionate man the she innately knew him to be. It seemed impossible that someone so dynamic would exist in a space devoid of any personal touch. It just made no sense to her. Rachna shook her head - she would get a headache contemplating all of this. Better to let it go for now, and do what she had come to.

She placed the sketch face up in the middle of the orderly desk. What it was would be self-explanatory, but Rachna wondered if it would not be best for her to leave a note to let Kabir know that she would be available to discuss the design immediately after lunch.  To that end, she slipped into the chair behind the desk, seeking first on the table-top, for a Post-it or the like to affix to her drawing. With no luck, she then turned to the desk drawers. Incredibly, like the desk's surface, the drawers were just as orderly and absent of anything that would serve to leave her memo. Opening the one that would be her last chance of holding the sticky sheets, Rachna pursed her lips as she reached blindly inside it. Her fingers running over the contents, she skimmed first over something that very much felt like a frame of some sort, and then finally it appeared that she lucked out. Pulling out the pad, Rachna quickly wrote the missive, and stuck it on the top right corner of her sketch.  Returning the note-paper back to the drawer, her hand once again came in contact with the article she had encountered previously.   This time instead of the metal frame, she felt glass, which led her to identify the object as a picture frame of some sort. Intrigued, she grasped it with the intention taking a peek at what she was sure was a hidden photo.

At the last minute, she stopped herself and had walked away.

As much as Rachna had wanted to, she just couldn't do it. The frame had been in her hand - she: ready to remove it from the place it had been hidden when she realized exactly what she was about to do. She had dropped it as if it was a hot ember, and jumped out of the chair. Swallowing, she closed the drawer shut and headed for the door. What had come over her? How could she come to the point that she was willing to intrude in another's privacy to satisfy her own morbid curiosity? What on earth was wrong with her? Just as she was about to leave, she looked back, just to make certain that everything had been put back in its original place: the last thing she wanted was for some evidence of her prying to be discovered. Satisfied, she twisted around abruptly and reached for the door knob, at the precise moment that it was pulled open from the opposite side.

*********

  Her momentum had her tripping directly into his arms. Thankfully his hands were empty and Kabir quickly saved his wife from a disastrous spill. He couldn't tell who was more startled at first, which could explain the fact that neither moved immediately. But soon it became evident as they stared at each other, that neither of them was inclined to move from their present position.  Rachna's hands had come to rest on his chest, in a clear attempt to brace her fall, and still many seconds later, remained in place - not that he was complaining. After so long without her the contact felt like heaven to him, and he was rendered speechless... and immediately on fire with longing for the woman who was his life.

She felt branded where he held her...that was the only way she could explain it. The heat of his touch at her waist made her quiver, and Rachna knew he felt it, his eyes - the most expressive she had ever seen in her life- revealed such. She closed her eyes against the sudden intensity, but made absolutely no attempt to remove herself from his grip.

Kabir took the opportunity of his wife's diffidence to scan her from head to toe, and then back up again, settling his gaze back on face. If her flush alone wasn't affirmation of her beauty, then what she wore today definitely lent to her attractiveness. She had on his favorite colour for her to wear - that almost burnt orange shade that made her skin glow, but once again in a styling that was so removed from her usual attire, and yet suited her to a tee.  The fitted pencil dress with the mandarin collar was exquisite, but not as much as the woman wearing it. Kabir's nostrils flared as he took in a deep breath, and involuntarily his hold on his wife tightened.  Her gasp in response was followed by the barely discernible flicker of her tongue over her bottom lip. By God he was tempted to answer that action  by capturing her lips with his own.

Kabir knew then, that he had to bring an end to this.

"Rachna," he called out, his voice gravelly with emotion. "Are you okay?"

Rachna's came back to awareness when he spoke. Oh  God, she thought, she was practically gripping the lapels of his sport-coat. Slowly she released her tight hold, and nodded. Both confused and mortified due to her reaction to him, Rachna hesitantly opened her eyes, afraid what she would find. She was grateful when Kabir casually set her upright and took a step back, averting his gaze away from her. It felt like a dismissal to her, which evoked even more confusing feelings in her.

 With the distance between them, Rachna finally found her voice.

"Forgive me Kabir," she began emotionally, turning and pointing back into his office. "I..I was just about to go to lunch, so I came to leave..."

Kabir nodded in understanding.  "Aacha, your sketch. Excellent. We can review it after lunch, or perhaps a working lunch," he queried hopefully.

"I have plans," Rachna torn between regret and relief that she would be leaving the office for the break. She began heading out..."Actually I must be on my way..." she muttered. "..Excuse me..."

Kabir nodded, and  stepped aside ,watching his flustered spouse exit his cabin.

**********

Kunal didn't think that she would really stand him up today, but lunch time had come and Rachna was nowhere to be found. She wasn't picking up her office line, and when he stopped by her office, he found it empty. Backing out of the room, he looked the distance to Kabir's office. The designer's door was closed, so there stood the possibility that she was sequestered in there with their employer. He went and knocked on the door, opening it after he heard KT Sir's instruction to enter. He was surprised to find the man alone

"Namaste KT Sir, have you seen Rachna?"

"She has left for lunch. I believe she is meeting a friend..."

"Well at least she considers me a friend," Kunal muttered before nodding at is employer. "Thank you Sir, at least I know she hasn't abandoned me."

"Excuse me," Kabir asked of the young man, paying closer attention to him now.

"Oh, nothing Sir, Rachna had invited me to lunch that's all. I'll go and seek her out, since I know she's still about, " Kunal answered before closing the door  to his boss's office.

He was heading in the direction of his own office, when he finally came upon his missing co-worker. He saw that she had her handbag and appeared ready to leave for their meal together.

"Rachna..."

Kabir observed his wife startle on hearing her name, before flushing.

"I will be waiting to discuss your design when you return." He glanced at his watch and gave a time exactly one hour and fifteen minutes from the current time.

"Ji Kabir," Rachna replied somewhat taken aback by his brusque tone.

 "It is probably good for the two of you to meet considering Kunal will be responsible for all online marketing of the bridal line, " Kabir stated succinctly,  now staring directly at his young employee. Over Rachna's shoulder Kunal nodded in understanding, more sure than not that this edict was actually meant for him. In in his own subtle way, Kabir Tipathi was expressing his displeasure over his wife sharing a meal with another man, and warning him not to dare think more of their lunch date. Kunal could respect that.

************

Kunal was certainly a talker...or perhaps he was making up for the lack of conversation from her end. Rachna had listened half-heartedly as Kunal, after giving her the complete rundown on himself, began detailing the web-site he was working on. She made the effort to nod and make appreciative sounds, as he continued, however in truth her mind was a million miles away. Befuddled by her reaction to her boss; she anxiously sought some explanation for her response to their contact. Why would their closeness affect her so? And why could she not stop replaying their encounter over and over? She needed to stop as she could feel her cheeks warm as she recalled both her participation and her reaction to Kabir. She picked up the cold drink she had ordered and drank deeply of it, all the while wishing she could just place the cold glass directly on her overheated cheeks. Before she knew it, she had drained the beverage completely, and placed the glass back on the table. Her movement to withdraw  was interrupted when Kunal clasped her hand before she could remove it from the table.

"Rachna, are you okay?"

She looked across the table wide-eyed at her companion. Oh God she thought, what were the chances that he would ask the very question that Kabir had? She then looked down at where their hands were connected, and realized that unlike earlier, she felt absolutely  zero ... the touch of his hand evoked nothing; no affect at all.

She looked up at Kunal, an apology on her lips even as she began rising from her chair.

"I'm sorry Kunal, I need to get back to the office."

"But we haven't even finished lunch," he responded. He rose out his chair when it was clear that she wasn't going to stay. Pulling out his wallet and throwing some bills down on the table he rushed after her. "For God's sake Rachna; at least let me give you a ride back."

*********

Had his thoughts been solely on checking the completed sketch, Kabir would have found nothing negative to remark on - as usual, Rachna had brought this design to a faultless conclusion; not that Kabir had expected anything less.  However, his mind remained crowded with his and Rachna's earlier encounter. Undeniably Rachna had felt something. He had sensed her reaction; had seen the resulting confusion, and now could only wonder how she would respond to this revelation. Knowing that she had learned at least some of his history; Kabir pondered if she would soon be able to make the connections that entwined them. Opening his left hand drawer, Kabir reached in to extract the double picture frame he had placed there the three nights prior. Their shaadi  picture occupied one half of the frame, while a casual family portrait of the two of them and Aryia, taken two weeks before the accident resided in the other. Smiling ruefully, Kabir gently caressed his wife's image, becoming lost in his memories of the life they shared. He barely heard when his office door opened, and had but a split second to hide away the photos when Rachna stormed unannounced into his office.

"You knew me before, didn't you Kabir? Before my accident, we knew each other."

The fact that he didn't even question the strangeness of her query let Rachna know that the designer was well aware of her circumstances. "Did I work for you before, Kabir," she asked looking for the commonality between them.

It wasn't the question that he would have wished for her to want to know the answer to, but at least it was a start.

"Haan Rachna," he admitted. "At one time you were one of my most promising design assistants."

She sat down hard into the chair on the other side of his desk when he fell silent after making this statement. "Is that it then, Kabir," she asked tearfully. "All there was to our relationship?"

Kabir narrowed his eyes, unsure as to  why her line of questioning was the cause of such distress, and then was unable to give her any answer at all when, as suddenly as she had arrived, Rachna had leapt up to make  her escape.

"Rachna, just wait a minute...come back so we can talk."

"I'm sorry I can't stay here..." she answered tearfully as she dashed out of his office. She walked through the office as briskly as her fitted dress allowed, uncaringly wiping her face.

Those in corridor came to a halt at the drama unfolding in front of them.  Kabir called after her again, and still Rachna would not stop. Sensing the futility in preventing her leaving, Kabir turned to Pratima who had been heading to his office. He instructed his assistant to ensure that the security guard hailed an auto for Rachna and took note of her direction. He would have to call her family and then make his way to her as soon as he confirmed her reaching home.

"But Kabir Sir, your afternoon conference call with Sarla S..."

He closed his eyes. He had promised a follow up with Rachna's UK distributor: something that had completely slipped his mind.

"Thik hai," he agreed, "Just make sure that an auto has been called for her." He turned back as his assistant reached for the nearest phone to make the internal call to the outside security hut.

He had made a commitment to preserving his wife's dream, so he would first keep the scheduled teleconference, and immediately afterwards, Kabir knew he would have to provide all of the answers Rachna needed. But before that he had to figure what could have possible caused such a despairing reaction from his wife to the fact that they shared a history. It just had made no sense.


DO NOT COPY THIS POST AS THIS IS EXCLUSIVE TO INDIA FORUMS

Edited by crtkelly - 16 July 2016 at 5:12am

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DLSRSharlene1410

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Posted: 16 July 2016 at 7:41am | IP Logged
Another excellent update Kelly Star I too like KT have questions LOL
DLSR Groupbie
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Posted: 19 July 2016 at 1:22am | IP Logged
wow kelly didi
what an update
i luv your writtings
di i'm gonna stay in a hostel for three years to my  degree compleation
wish me luck

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crtkelly

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Posted: 22 August 2016 at 9:07pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by Sharlene1410

Another excellent update Kelly Star I too like KT have questions LOL

Thanks Sharlene, I am glad you enjoyed. Sorry for going AWO, just haven't been in the mood to write. Hope you are still around to enjoy the next chapter.

Kelly

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Sharlene1410

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Posted: 22 August 2016 at 9:10pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by DLSR

wow kelly didi
what an update
i luv your writtings
di i'm gonna stay in a hostel for three years to my  degree compleation
wish me luck

Thank you so much for the compliment, and congrats to you on the next step in your education... Have you relocated the hostel yet...if so how are you enjoying it?

I hope you have time to read, and I finally intend on finishing the story.

All the best to you,

Kelly
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Posted: 22 August 2016 at 9:34pm | IP Logged

Confession time: I got absolutely disenchanted with this story and writing in general, and seriously contemplated giving up entirely, but I am trying not to fall into the trap of leaving things unfinished. So here I am after so long with another chapter. Can't say that I am entirely happy with the chapter, but needed to post to get myself going again. Apologies to all who have been waiting so long for this next update.

Chapter #7

The short bathrobe barely on her shoulders, Naomi wasn't about to make any excuses for her appearance today. Whoever was at her door would just have to accept the sub-human state she was in. It had been an awful morning, preceded by an even worst night and she was completely exhausted. Something- well  to be exact, the rich ice cream she had indulged in to satisfy her insatiable craving for sweet  yesterday- had not agreed with either Lalita or Tanvi, and both she and Rajeev had had a time of it soothing the babies of their upsets last night. It had continued to a lesser extent, into the morning, but despite her overtired state, Naomi had insisted that her husband carry on with his routine today.  It was a short day for him at any rate, so she assured him that she would hold the fort until he got back. It had proven rough going though, and it was just her luck, that now with the girls resting, and she having finally found the time to shower and put on fresh PJs that someone  would start ringing the door-bell, just as she was about to lie down and catch a quick power-nap. She wasn't expecting anyone, nor was it time for Rajeev to be returning either, so she was at a complete loss as to who her visitor could be.  She reached the door and was about to look out the peephole when her mobile began ringing back in her bedroom. Torn between answering the phone before the ringing disturbed the babies, and opening the door, Naomi quickly peered to see who was outside the flat, and frowned. Instantly recognizing her visitor, Naomi hurried to unlatch the lock in order to greet her visitor.

"Rachna?"

Her friend turned around, her mobile still at her ear, a clear look of relief coming to her face. She disconnected her call, and immediately the faint ringing in the background ceased.  With her free hand, she wiped at her damp cheek.

"I'm sorry, I had to leave... and I couldn't go home in this condition" Rachna began before she paused and took a good look at her friend's attire. "But it looks like I've disturbed you, so..."

Naomi immediately reached for Rachna to stop her leaving. A fool could discern how upset the young woman was. Consequently, all thought of resting at once fled the new mother as she led her distraught friend into her home, guiding her into the lounge and to sit on the sofa.  "Make yourself comfortable, Ra...I will just be back with some chai for the two of us, thik hai?"

Rachna nodded, thankful for her welcome, but then indicated that she needed to visit the washroom first.

"Of course," Naomi answered, hoping that this would give her the opportunity she needed to contact KT and find out exactly what was going on.

"Have you ever felt that your life is a lie: that, things - important things- are being withheld from you for some reason?"

Naomi drank deeply of her chai, buying time in which to find the right answer to provide Rachna. Her very brief telephone conversation with Kabir suggested the slight chance that Rachna had recalled something about the pair's history, but could not justify the reaction the young designer had expressed on receiving confirmation of their past association.  Finally bringing the cup down from her lips, Naomi swallowed and responded with a nod to her friend.

"Yes," she answered, having come to the conclusion that unlike her personal experience, that Rachna would benefit from someone being upfront with her. "Yes, Rachna, I understand exactly what you mean, and I also know exactly how bereft you are feeling right now.

********

Finding herself in the washroom for a second time, distractedly Rachna dabbed the wet cloth over the ice-cream staining her new outfit. Reeling over the details she had just been given by Naom: apparently just the very beginning of the tale the young mother had inexplicably decided was appropriate to tell her today, Rachna paused in her task. Frankly the potential of the dress being permanently marked was secondary to what had just been disclosed to her - that she and Naomi too had known each other prior to her accident. And it seemed that this was the very least of it.

"You and Daadi hadn't left my baby-shower, no more than ten minutes when your accident occurred. That day, I was absolutely terrified that I would lose the person responsible for me finding my own happiness... my very best friend ..."

Naomi had just switched the offer of a refill of the tea to the frosty dessert, and made good on her promise just minutes before she made that pronouncement. Now ruing her error in not understanding how shocked Rachna would be, Naomi rapped on the bathroom door and extended the comfortable PJs around the door when it opened slightly. She hadn't given it a second thought and began talking immediately after she had placed the heaping bowl in front of Rachna and watched her partake of the yummy treat- a practice that they had often followed after that first night they had met  in the student accommodations in the UK. It had just felt so normal to be doing this with her friend. Now assuring Rachna that they would get her pretty dress laundered immediately, Naomi made sure that her guest was okay and asked to come out soon so that they could continue the conversation that there was no going back from now.

Admitting to herself that she had delayed her return to get a grasp on her emotions, ten minutes later, Rachna came up quietly behind the at odds couple. Quickly surmising that the discord had come from her former coach's assumption that his wife had recklessly partaken of the sweet that had upset their little girls' digestive systems the night before, Rachna immediately stepped up in defense of her friend against the unfair lecture she was receiving. If, as Naomi had suggested, she had been instrumental in bringing the pair together, there was no way she could allow her mishap to be the reasoning for their present discord.

"Naomi, I think I've eliminated the worst of the staining. I hope I didn't ruin the area rug when I dropped my bowl..."

Rajeev's head came up to discover Rachna standing behind his wife, dressed in the all too familiar Hello Kitty lounge-set  holding an item of clothing.  On hearing her words, he quickly looked towards the lounge, noting for the first time the two coffee mugs and immediately realizing his grave error, he looked back down at his wife, still holding the partially empty bowl, and who now refused to even look at him. Placing a finger under her chin, he raised Naomi's head, praying he would find irritation if not absolute anger in her eyes: anything but the tears he suspected he had caused with his unwarranted chastisement. He hadn't even given her the chance to explain, so upset he was at the thought that she had given in again to the tempting treat that had proven a disastrous combination to her breastfeeding their daughters.

"Sweetheart..."

Naomi closed her eyes in the vain attempt to hold her tears in check.

"You're home too early. Ra and I were about to have an important conversation...and we need the time alone," she stated tearfully.

She opened her eyes to watch her husband shake his head, refusing to let her dismiss him.

"Please...we can talk about this later. Rachna needs me now." She smiled sadly. "I will call you when we are done...please Rajeev."

After a minute, he stepped away from her, knowing that he would get nowhere with Naomi for the moment. He nodded, regret showing on his face. "When are the girls due to be fed next? I will make sure I'm back by then so you can finally go to bed, thik hai?"

"That's not necessary, I have the bottles ready, and I'm sure Ra will help me if needed. I will call you, okay?"

 

After Rajeev's hesitant departure, together, Naomi and Rachna quickly cleaned up the aftereffects of the previous mishap, and then resettled on the spacious sectional sofa.

"Naomi, I'm sure Rajeev didn't mean..."

"Just consider it a lesson he had to learn, but don't worry about it...not when I'm sure you really want to discuss what I threw at you unexpectedly." Naomi responded before getting up and excusing herself for a minute.

Rachna couldn't deny it, and yet she couldn't help but feel so remorseful for Naomi's situation. Could her empathy be due to the long-standing friendship that she had been advised of or just the camaraderie that the pair had recently developed? Honestly she really didn't know.

"Why don't I just begin, Rachna, and then you can tell me if any of it sounds familiar to you, okay," Naomi said on her return, her arms full.

********

It had always been Rachna's intention to have a second collection well underway, if not completed by the time she stopped work pending the birth of their second child. Not only that, but by mutual agreement,  in the months prior to her delivery, together, they had made the decision to relocate the bulk of KT Creations' activities to the downtown office space they had procured, so that their current studio space  at home could be turned over to accommodate Banara's Beauty's steadily increasing business. Aside from the extra space it would provide  the additional staff Rachna had expected to take on to help her with ever-growing responsibilities, the renovations of an alcove into an area for their children, would offer  Rachna the best of both worlds once she returned to full time designing after their son was born. The newly configured workspace was a working mother's dream allowing Rachna the ability to pursue her professional aspirations while also caring for their young children. There would always be, Rachna had promised wryly, a space for her husband in her newly designated workspace - something that Kabir fully intended to take advantage off. However in sacrificing his area, Kabir was keeping the promise he had made to his wife in offering his complete support as she strived to balance motherhood and career.

Now as he perused the space, he believed that there was no better time than the present to make the necessary moves to bring their changes finally to fruition.  Very soon, he thought, it would be time for him to reveal all to Rachna, and finally bring his wife home where she belonged. Therefore it only made sense to commence the move from of Rachna's existing workspace to the studio.

Turning, Kabir was surprised by his visitor who had covertly entered the studio space. He smiled in greeting at the bouquet carrying hockey coach.

"Truly, you shouldn't have, Rajeev."

"Trust me, Kabir it would be preferable if these were for you, Kabir. At least I could be assured of what sort of reception I will get on receipt of them."

On closer inspection, Kabir recognized the arrangement as being made up of Naomi's favorites, and he frowned in commiseration for whatever trouble the new father found himself in.

"If it is any consolation, I'm sure that it is only her hormones that are making the situation seem worse than it actually is my friend."

Rajeev shook his head to concur with Kabir assessment, and then moved on to the news he knew would be of interest to the designer. " And I imagine that the fact that you are home now and evidently unconcerned, means that it's no surprise where your own wife is so early this afternoon?"

Kabir confirmed this assumption with a nod. "Haan, despite the fact that she left the office distressed, I was assured to learn that she had gone home to Pari. I knew she would be in good hands. But I suspect more is afoot as you are here...something that has necessitated a heartfelt apology?"

"I'm afraid so, so count yourself fortunate that you have my company until I am summoned home..."

"Your timing couldn't be any better, actually. Come we will put the flowers in some water, and you can assist me in a most pressing task."

*******

This time around, Rachna seemed to have taken the news well. Armed with evidences of her story, Naomi had detailed their initial meeting and subsequent time spent first in university in the UK and then Naomi's stint at SVC.  From her point of view, Naomi told of her return to Banaras, and her chance meeting with Rajeev Agarwal, who had returned as hockey coach. Carefully ignoring any reference to Kabir other than as Rachna's boss, she clarified her modelling career culminating in how Rachna had designed her exquisite lehenga for her shaadi.  In silence, Rachna had listened, taking in all the information without hesitation or skepticism of the tale.

Finally, Naomi came to the end of the story. The remainder: as to Rachna's marriage and children -were not within her remit to relate, and thus left unsaid. Only should she make a direct query, would Naomi even entertain broaching the subject; so she concluded her version, leaving the photographic evidences of their past in from of Rachna for her to make as she would. And then she waited for her response.

"Naomi, if it's not too personal a question..."

Naomi grinned at the young woman across from her. "I don't think there has ever been anything as too personal between the two of us Ra. Please ask away."

"Were the twins: Tanvi and Lalita...were they premature perchance?"

Naomi flushed, but did not hesitate in her response. "Nahi Rachna, they were not. Seven months after Rajeev and mine's marriage was exactly full term for our girls, well give or take a few days." Naomi paused and then continued, "However I would like to confess that neither our intimacy nor my pregnancy were anticipated or planned; quite the contrary to tell the truth." She then waited for some indication that would reveal the reason behind this surprising line of questioning.

"And...well, how did you, I mean how could you make that choice, the decision to..."

It was more than she had even asked of her at the time, when everything happened, but despite the strangeness, Naomi figured that Rachna had a motive for asking.

"Because I loved him, and had finally realized that he loved me too, Rachna. Because in that moment I could not think of anything wrong in being with him...because I could not, not be with him; not express the love I felt for him. Because, at that moment, not being with him would have been the biggest regret of my life. Before him, I truly believed there was something wrong with me, because I had never experienced anything... never wanted anyone in that way:  but with Rajeev it just felt right...no even that doesn't justify it. It was an expression of love in its purest form, and it was perfect."

For the longest while after that, Rachna kept her own counsel, keeping her thoughts to herself. Finally she spoke.

"I had the biggest crush on Rajeev when I first started SVC," she began, returning Naomi's smile in this obvious shared knowledge. "And then there was Vihaan. I remember feeling love for Vihaan, but never, never in the way that you have just described. How is Vihaan, by the way?"

"He's an absolute idiot Rachna, but that is entirely another story. However, I definitely love my devar, warts and all; I wouldn't change him for the world. But may I ask why you..."

"Maybe I just wanted to remind you, in hopes that you will forgive your husband for today, Naomi."

For some reason Naomi doubted this to be the truth, but her response was cut short by the mewling cries that came over the baby monitor. She invited Rachna to assist her with the twins. Hopefully this would be their last bottle fed for the day, now that she had allowed sufficient time for any trace of the irritating substance to work its way out of her system. But for now, barring her absent husband, Naomi couldn't think of anyone she would want at her side tending to her daughters. She could only hope that in some small measure, their time together would lead her friend back to where she belonged.

The beautiful baby in her arms, Rachna fed the earnest infant, feeling even closer to the child, her sister and most of all to their mother. She had never expected to learn what she had today, but it made the most perfect sense, and explained why she  would share such an affinity with Naomi. She prayed that her memories would come back to her, not only so that these stories would become more than that; so that she could share the emotions that came along with them. Looking at her friend she felt that her questioning had softened her stance towards her husband, who had most definitely had hurt her feelings terribly, and she wondered at such a love: one that surpassed physical longings and became the connection of two souls. Naomi and Rajeev were so fortunate to have found such...unlike her.

Rachna had told the truth when she had explained to Naomi that in the past, she had never felt such longing for a man: that is not until today. ..today when she found herself unwittingly in Kabir Tripathi's arms. Then and only then did she experience anything remotely like Naomi had described, probably more if she was truthful. It frightened her like nothing else ever had particularly on learning that she was suffering such intense desire for a married man.

Intuition told her that Kabir was an honorable man, but by god what did this say about her. And how did this stain on her character speak to her past with the designer?


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