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FF:Perfect Imperfection...lov..LASTPART23

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spln

IF-Sizzlerz

spln

Joined: 06 December 2007

Posts: 11036

Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:33am | IP Logged
hey everyone....my first attempt at an FF....i hope its atleast close to being an entertaining one....no character sketches...coz i dont hav a fixed plan running yet...just a faint picture which um materializing in print...so they jus show themselves as the story rolls on....wont make it too long though....um alwaz impatient to see the happy endings so il giv u all one as well!!!Smile hope u all will like it....
well here it goes....

*edit*
ps: this was, like i said, my first... returning to it occasionally, or even lesser times i find it embarrassingly amateurish... if any of my current readers venture upon this fic, after having read later, and in my opinion better fics of mine, this is warning you to not be severely disappointed in whatever expectations you may hold! :)

thats said, enjoy, if you still will!

~INTRODUCTION~

She looked around, waiting to see who it was gona be this time, her face reflected her dim enthusiasm for the afternoon ahead....everytime she resolved to have an end put to this her family came up with a new deal....DEAL...perfect word for these blind dates set up by her dad....deals they were indeed... deals in the making... same story everytime, "ridz beta you must understand so and so is a really nice boy.." (he meant his father is another one of those potbellied rich millionaires striking a collaboration with whom will take the family heritage to even greater heights if thats even a possibilty), "he's just perfect for you and our family, rich mature well educated...wat more can u ask for???"
right dad...i couldn't ask for anymore...the thing is...can i ask for less???like a usual boy next door who would love me to bits just for being me RIDHIMA n not RIDHIMA GUPTA, the heir to the huge empire called Gupta Legal Offices??? but i guess thats what life is like when you are born in that perfect home where you name it and you have it...that's how i grew up, getting everything much before i asked for it or even knew what it was about...and mind you i got only the very best...the best clothes toys books music mansions cars...n now...the best eligible bachelors in town...for heavens sake....someone save me from this perfection...can i ever be allowed the lifestyle of a mere mortal living on the face of this planet????why can it not ever be about me, why is it alwayz about that young gupta girl whose life iv been leading for over two decades now...please get me out of this mess someone....

"hey...ridhima is it???"....i turned around with a slight frown...who's it now? doesnt he know its rude to interupt a lady's thoughts...."yeh that's me i said...do i know you???"looking at him however i wished i did...OMG....wat was this guy a live walking talking greek god incarnation????help me someone....um gona faint..can somebody actually look that good????OMG he's just perfect....dam u ridz....no no no plzzzz....remember nothing more perfect....you cant possibly survive another perfection in ur life...get a grip girl....who is he anyway..."well no you dont know me...not essentially atleast... but you were supposed to meet up with someone here so i'd expect you know the name...rahul grewal..." he paused looking at my dazed look...."r u alright????" he continued....dude bad question...can u expect a normal girl to be alright after a mere glance t you....oh hang on rahul grewal???thast the guy dad arranged me to meet up with this time???OMG dad i have to give it to you for knowing how to allure me ....wat a hunk...good taste my old man has u gotta agree...and what class....he was still looking at me ....and suddenly duno how i zapped out my dreamworld..."oh rahul...oh yeh...dad told me to see you here....ummm....nice to meet you"..."the pleasures all mine lady, " he smiled...OMG um really gona faint...were those dimples????OMG OMG...."but the name is armaan...armaan malik...."...armaan...perfect....desire...wow...whoever named him must have been a big brain....perfect match....shit that P word again....ridzi...ur losing it....hang on...armaan he said???but rahul....o man....wats happening....i shot him a questioning look....he smiled again (dont do that dude...u should be locked behind bars....how many girls in london did u kill with that smile of yours????ridz....NOW THIS IS THE LIMIT....WHERE THE HECK DID YOU PICK THAT CHEESY LINE FROM???...interupting my thoughts for the umpteenth time he continued "yeh um armaan...rahul's friend...i know he was supposed to meet you..but he has sent me...because," he paused trying to find the best words ...all i could think of is rahul where are you man...i need to so thank you for making me meet this guy....is he for real????like from this world itself?????....he resumed " well u know y u both were supposed to meet up...n well rahul couldnt talk his dad into not setting up this meeting, cause he loves someone dearly....and he wanted no issues for himself or you by having this whole thing happen...but u know these big shot dads....who can ever explain to them that there's world beyond name and fame...u know wat i mean???" he looked at me....fumbling with expressions not quite certain if he had made his point....thats when i took over...smiled at him reassuringly...now he was talking "of course i know what that means....thats exactly how i grew up remember????anyways...u must thank your friend on my behalf....i wanted nothing differnt" ...n well i just have to thank him to have sent you...i thought..."so you love someone else too??"...i jerked up at his question....was that a jealous look on his face...yipee!!!hang on...nah not really...guess its more like i wanted to see the jealous look...he seemed to be genuine ....like just curious....so i said(i bit disappointed....well ok....more than a bit....)..."no i m not....theres other reasons...chuck it....coffee????"well how could i explain in words how i wanted a real home and a real loving family not a deal sealing relation....even though i was all smitten by this guy...n would love to hook him into a conversation no mater what...i was still so myself....just never able to express this innermost desire of mine....stil living behind that young gupta girl mask....but wait hey...did i ask him for coffee???omg....ridzi wat the heck...did u hav to sound so...."yeh sure" he said...interupting yet again...dude will u leme think out my thoughts completely for once????newaz....chuck thinking....ur having coffee with him ....WITH HIM....OMG!!!

~Part 1~

"Yeh dude i fixed it all for u...yeh no trouble....infact she was quite easy to manage...dint even have to mention muskaan's name...she seemed to have come with the plan to dump u as well!!!but just to save ur ego, not for another guy...just some reasons she dint prefer to mention n i wasnt dying to know them...i mean who cares anyways right....WAT???o c'mon...yeh well ok if u insist on knowing...yeh she was pretty i guess and had a certain different kind of charm...not the stylish chick look u expect from the usual ladies in our class though!!...anyways chum...peace for now...i'll catch up with you later!"
well well well....so wat was that all about armaan????i mean c'mon man...what lines...just perfect....rich dads...name n fame...importance of love....gosh rahul and muskaan i am gona get you both to save my neck from some deep soup like this too when the time comes...i mean what statements...n those coming out of me???armaan malik....wow!!!the guy who believes in No love is the only way to success, was preaching the hypocrisy involved in the lives of the rich and famous...ur too good man....u should so try making it in politics!!!well...that would be a good career i guess...i am good at it n it would bring me the name n fame i look upto....silly girl...what was her name...oh yeh ridhima...hmmm...cant believe she grew up in a house like that n thinks this way!!!...ring ring....oopz...who's that....omg dad..."yeh dad, i am on my way...yes i remember that well...dad please...u know me...um not even a graduate yet and i already have offers from the best law firms in the country...if you ever dreamt of expansions to the malik law officess its coming along, cause this top of the class law graduate,2008, armaan malik will join you so soon!!!!..." ..."i know son! thats the way u were groomed n you r doing the family proud! i am so happy both you and muskaan have have grown up like perfect malik children...no silly emotions to hamper your ways to success!..so what was the important thing you want to talk to me about???"
"patience dad...i will be with you in 10minutes...its important i talk to you in person..."..."right son, il see you"...
********
Get a grip ridz...it was just a guy...infact....he can never be your guy you could see that right...i mean he is way too perfect...Macho looks, Malik empire, Cambridge law school.... father would love him....well thats reason enough to believe that he isnt the one for me i guess...but hang on...i mean he thinks like me too remember...maybe he is also one of my class just trapped in the perfect maliks trying to get breathing space...he sure spoke like that....but did he mean it all???well i guess i did not really get time to analyse him much, just couldnt get out of that 'Struck by armaan daze'....wow wat was that guy....could he be the one for me god?????..."Ms gupta we are home," said steve her personal chauffeur...o in the name of heavens! another scene now....another lame explaination...another period of being practically grounded in those socialite parties until dad finds another suitable groom...."thanx steve!"..."hello father! i am back...."she said in a meek voice, so not looking forward to the scene that was gona take place next in the gupta mansion....

*********
"greetings dad!...how was your trip to france???did you strike the deal in the robinson case??i was following up through news...but would love to hear first hand...all my peers and professors have been asking me for the inside details....of course i know just who all i should really confide in...."he finished all that in a breath..sure was excited to see dad he thought...such prestige such position....well armaan ur going higher than that remember...."greetings to you to son...its so refreshing to be back home and see you...where is muskaan? i havent seen her?"...well finally we are coming to the topic....muskaan....thats what we have to talk about dad...n i am noticing you are not asking about mum as usual...well guess you know she must be deep in to her social work somewhere, some orphanage, some old age home....he had grown accustomed to these ways in his house over the past years of his life...
~flashback~
"cheers son! finally you are at the threshold of making my dream come true!" said Samrat malik raising toast to his son's acceptance to cambridge for his legal studies..."thanks dad!...where is mum???"..."o u know her must be somewhere involved in her social work," replied his father it seemed with a sarcastic yet disinterested tone....he had to clear out all his doubts today..."dad can i ask you for something today?"he quiped not expecting a no from his father atleast today..."sure armaan...anything for you son....is it the new mercedes model u want????"...armaan smiled...thats his dad...never thinks anything less than the very best...perfect...but he went on with his question..."dad... i think i have reached that age now...i need to know about u n mum...from the start"....armaan had seen his mother not much....she stayed to herself...or maybe armaan stayed with his father all the time....he knew she loved him and muskaan n their father alot but also knew that she was not a fit in them...she was way too emotional...thought about everything with her heart...love was her world....interupting his thoughts samrat said "yeh i gues its time...well here it goes....your mother and i met at oxford law school"...wat????she was a law student and i never knew????i mean she never mentioned....samrat continued observing armaan's silent rusing..."she was beautiful intelligent smart...perfect for an aspiring man like me who wanted to touch heights in life...she would be the perfect support i need in a life partner i realised...so i asked her out...and well considering i was not one of those rich oxford students her yes to me came as a suprise to many young suitors in our batch who would be perfect for her family"...samrat let the information sink in....he knew armaan had hungered for this story for years now...well samrat was gona give it to him today.... the truh...the truth retold samrat's way though....he continued "we kept seeing each other after our first date...we liked being together...your mother was unlike people from her class of the society...she liked to live in style but at the same time she was humble and that was her charm....she did not look for that perfect bloodline in the man of her dreams and so we fit well...her father , a leading barrister, and the owner of the extremely successful Mittal law firm, however had the usual opinions of fathers from such families...and did not approve of us much....her mother had been long dead....when we finally got married against his wishes he gave in to the choice of the only child and heir to his huge empire...and i proved to be a worthy son in law, he realized with time, so he tranfered the rights to the property from Radhika's name to our joint control before he died of sudden heart stroke"...samrat thought within...yeh that sounds perfect....their is no need for armaan to know the cause of heart stroke was Mittal's discovery of the fact that i had married radhika with the intentions to rule over his empire...o well whereever u are sasurji u must be proud of how well iv done the job much better than u much more practical no silly donations...well radhika does some i dont let her do much of that wastage anymore....not from my shares atleast...coming back to armaan he spoke again "your mother was shattered by her father's sad demise and gave up on legal profession for good...we argued about it alot...i wanted her to stay she was the perfect partner with me...but no...her emotions....she never understood the word ambition...since then we have just been growing adrift...she transfered all rights of the firm to me keeping some personal property in her name...since she wanted to quit and said i could manage well the work" samrat said this dramatically with moist eyes...."armaan i was broken by her act....but i realised how much faith the old man had displayed in me and so continued to work and have done that all these years single handedly ...while your mother lives with her emotinal loss and such excuses in her own world...i miss the sparkling beauty with brains i married who had the world at her feet n wanted it so...she just abandoned it all...and me along with it...."samrat now had tears....armaan stopped him from speaking and said "thats it father...i dont want any more details i am sorry to have brought up old memories which hurt you so much....we will never discuss her again i promise, and you will not be alone much longer i will join you as a successful law graduate, and together we will scale new heights!"...samrat smiled...it had all worked...never will he have to explain the past again...of how radhika after her fathers death n samrats taking over had started to see a change in him...and slowly she just resorted to relinquishing her rights and give up all of this for she lost faith in life...the man she had loved married and borne 2 kids with wasnt there anymore....she couldnt live with it...but for her kids she decided to stay in the same house and do for them all she could from a bit of distance...well samrat ensured they dint become too attched to her....and so it had been for all these years...samrat sighed with satisfaction as he saw armaans resolve to succeed his father...thats what he had wanted....n now all he needed was muskaan to be married of to the grewal's only son rahul...perfect collaboration....armaan meanwile thought...mum u broke my dad and his support....he loved u and u did this....well armaan theres 2 things for u now....never fall in love....n reach where ur destined to be the top of the legal world!....
~falshback ends~

coming back to reality again armaan thought well dad um gona give u great news!!!...aloud he said "dad muskaan fell in love!!"...seeing him frown he further spoke..."with rahul grewal my chum from cambridge????hes a wonderful guy dad n they both tohgether will do great!!!"...samrat could not believe his ears...was this all really happening....but wait his arch rival shashank gupta had told him just a couple of days ago that the cards were in for rahul and his daughter...what was her name....ridhima ...yeh thats wat..."armaan r u sure....u know about the gupta firm...well shashank told me his daughter and rahul wr going to be tying the knot soon????"...armaan smiled..."dad...that WAS going to happen....but isnt anymore..." and he explained the whole story to his father....samrat smiled...his son was going to manage the mailk empire perfectly...he could handle everything!!!!

*********

~Part 2~

Shashank frowned deep in thought. ridhima had retired to her bedroom after their short talk...she told him rahul liked someone else. she never mentioned who, and it had seemed she was hiding something...he wondered what until he got a call...from none other than Anshuman grewal, rahul's father. could u believe that man's audacity he did not mention ridhima even once...no, he had called to invite the gupta's to his son's wedding with muskaan...THE MUSKAAN MALIK....shashank couldn't take it anymore he felt like he had been beaten down three ends...ridz his own daughter, the less said about her the better she dint deserve to be a gupta heiress, grewals...how could they have done this to him????and that Anshuman, dint think it befitting to even offer an explaination, no he talked like they had never discussed a prospective wedding between their kids...and lastly that bloke...Samrat...he ought to be sent back to the gutters he came from...he was a big shot today that slug, but shashank n he had been together at oxford and he knew where this so called malik empire headed from. it had started back then when radhika turned him down, him, shashank, for that 'hailing from the slums' samrat malik...well she had received her punishments...samrat had shown his true colors way too soon, shashank smirked thinking of the way Mittal empire converted to Malik empire!!!but then he remembered the current events and frowned again, draining his vodka in a single go...they all let him down...n how could he face that samrat now with this second snatch he had made from shashank....he could just see that sneering face looming large before him....and he would just have to attend the wedding too...obligations cant be overlooked at statures like his...slowly...he gave in to his disturbed sleep taking over his active thoughts and slumped on the bar table itself...

**********
~rahul-muskaan wedding~

ridhima loked around with that fake smile fixed o her face...the one she was forced to carry on at all these socialite events. she had been there just 10mins so far n it felt like eternity...she just wanted to get back home to her room where she could be herself again....*splash*...omg my saree..."oh no "she started and looked up to see....HIM???AGAIN???was she dreaming again???it had been happening to her lately all this hallucinating about his presence and stuff...but wait he was real this time...really????...her heart skipped a beat as he took a couple of tissues and started wiping the stains off her dress, while grinning and saying "i am so sorry...its just the excitement...my sister and best friend getting married...dream come true...i just did not see where i was...hey hang on...we have met right????"...god here i was unable to sleep with his images flashing in my dreams n this guy is not even sure if he even knows me...aloud she said "yes...ridhima gupta....n u r are armaan malik????....wait did u say ur sister????"....armaan quickly realised who she was...OMG she of all the people....and now i hav to explain who the girl is...the one rahul loved...o man...this is so not gonna be pleasant..."yes my sister muskaan....she is the girl i told u about...rahul and she are madly in love with each other..."he said all of this with a happiness he couldnt hide, but with certain caution in his tone not sure of her reaction, not like it mattered but still...he had been the intermediary for the whole issue...and the one thing armaan did not like was anybody in the world not thinking well of him...."oh so its your sister...heavens....u must be happy...its awsome they are getting together if they love each other so much...i hope they live happily" she said...wow armaan thought...she does the obligation quite neatly...hang on...is it me...or is she genuine about what she just said....no kidding...she looks like she really means it n is happy about it....wow girl gotta give it to u what world are u from???? "thanx i hope so too....they are perfect for each other...er ridhima....so ummm...well yeh have fun at the wedding....i'll see you around!...o n sorry about the saree....u need a change????i can get my cousin sisters to help u out they are helping muskaan get ready..."..."no thats fine i have to leave soon anyways, my father has clashing commitments so we will have to go soon...but i am happy to know the couple is such a lovely one....wish for their happy married life..."she smiled a warm smile....wow she thought um not jittery anymore with him....see ridzi...it was just a first time seeing the hunk effect....now ur fine....wont be hllucinating no more...and she walked off....he turned to watch her walk by....shaking his head still finding it wierd he was sure now....her reaction had been not only unexpected but trully meant...just dont see how she is a GUPTA HEIRESS...way too soft a target man...well i hope miss ridhima gupta u get a guy who can stand up for u....u dont seem close to be doing that for urself in life....but...well....something about her...innocence perhaps....was making him smile slightly as he thought all this....o no no that's not why i am smiling....i am smiling cause its the happiest day in my life...muskaan n rahul....he smiled again....his endearing smile.. flashing those dimples....
The scene did not escape 2 sharp pairs of eyes....n both had the same thought in their fast scheming minds....samraat and shashank.... from different spots had seen the short conversation between armaan and ridhima, though both could not hear the words exchanged, but they felt a connection...a piece falling in place in the jigsaw....a perfect chance for vengence....well not just that....a bonus lucrative collaboration as well!!!!

*********
ridhima had observed armaan at work for muskaans wedding for that short period she was there....but she left with her father right after the garlands were exchanged...she was feeling relaxed after days of restlessness...relaxed yet excited....somewhere inside was a contentment of having seen him for real...and today she had seen as she figured out the real armaan...a loving brother....and a dear friend....an ideal son....his happiness and enthusiasm had been dripping in each action....and as she watched him move all over the place for errands she loved the idea of how emotional he was....so unlike the rich brats she had been seeing over the past 2 years....she felt happy that she had not read him wrong he was indeed what she had thought....someone who cared about feelings and emotions very deeply....an essential trait she had hoped for in the guy she would share her life with....she felt in that one short evening god had answered her question....he was perhaps gona indeed be her man....but then she frowned slightly....why would he think about her the same way????both their meetings had shown him to be courteously nice to her....but nothing more nothing less...just the way you would be with someone who's a mere aquaintance....she sighed...well she thought...god um leaving it to you to decide...i am not too good at that anyways.....i can just wish thats all i ever do....can never take real actions....have my father's ideals and reputation to consider...the whole gupta girl thing u know.....please god....think like me and fix us up!!!

*********
Shashank had observed ridhima's serene happy look during the one hour drive back home....he had never spent much time with her as a father...but his shrewd brain had enabled him to know his daughter quite a bit...well enough to figure out that the armaan ridhima link he had felt at the party wasnt a figment of his imagination...there was something...n even if it was trivial, shashank knew how to make things big if needed....n anyways for the first time he felt like he was gona ask ridhima for something she wouldnt want to deny to him...that makes life easy he thought smirking to himself....finally retiring for the night, he decided to talk to ridhima the following morning itself....the party hadnt been the worst thing to happen to him afterall....

**********
Armaan sat on the stairs....staring at the life size portrait of muskaan and him from their first rakhi...she was a tiny baby....and he was a little boy...someone(not visible in the picture) was holding her fragile hand and helping her tie the rakhi on armaan's wrist. he smiled through tears....miss u kid he thought....but rahul will keep u happy...he remembered what ridhima had said...lovely couple...happy married life...he smiled....n then frowned almost instantaneously....no what the heck made me think of her????its ok dude...ur just tired....he was brought back from his thoughts as he turned around to see who had gripped his shoulder from behind...."dad!" he hugged samrat...."i am so happy for muski dad....rahul n she are perfect...."...samrat chose his words carefully..."i would wish to see you settled just as happily son..."...armaan broke away from the hug slightly and looked at his father with a face which had too many expressions at the same time....too many to be read simultaneously anyways....samrat continued..."do u have someone in mind????"...armaan now gave his father a complete dumbstruck look..."dad???" he started..."what brings you to this topic????"..."well you know how my married life has been armaan...i have everything except happiness..."he said with a solemn look..."and i know what that feels like....seeing muskaan so happy today gave me immense pleasure and my only remaining wish is to see you the same way...afterall you both are all there is too my life...all this work and business is gona keep getting better in your hands i know that and i am not worried....but its time for you to settle in life as well....which brings me back to my question....do u have someone in mind????"....armaan replied instantaneously, "no dad u know i dont believe in all this matrimony stuff....i mean with rahul n kid its different....they are an exception to the word called love....i just want to focus on malik empire n nothing more....."even as he rattled off these words armaan felt a tug in the back of his head....but he could not pin down what was feeling out of place in the words he had just uttered....samrat meanwile tried another way...."armaan....i actually....well....have someone in mind....its all your wish son....i would never want to force anything upon you its your life n happiness and ur the best judge....but its just that after i saw u both together today at the wedding it made me think...."...he paused to see armaans reaction...getting none he continued..."i am talking about ridhima gupta..."...there....he hit bull's eye he was sure....armaans expression reaffirmed the connection samrat had felt click during the wedding...even if it is trivial he thought i know how to make it big if needed....armaan meanwile taken completely off guard stammered "r r r ridhima????"getting back his nerves..."dad???i dont even know her....just from that cafe meet where we sorted out things so she would move out of rahul and muskaans way....thats all...there is nothing more to the story...i mean...dad...wat even made u think of her"....samrat knowing this wasnt gona be easy....but certainly not impossible....spoke "well there's quite a few reasons...my essential reason...the girl herself...the way u described her talk from your first meet, and the way i saw u both today for that very short conversation, which i dint overhear dont worry,...i figure she is ideally the girl to be in the malik household....cultured, well educated, rich and....beautiful" he added the last word in the softest voice but with great emphasis, the effect was obvious....for the first time he saw his son blush....just slightly...but blush....determined to hit the home run samrat went on..."armaan like i said its ur life....and i know you will not agree with the reason i just gave....so here's some fodder for ur practical head....her last name GUPTA....does that do the trick???...u are of course well aware of the implication of that name...n the joint implication of the names GUPTA and MALIK right????" giving him a slight pause to put 2 and 2 together, samrat went on, in a softer tone this time, "but son that fact is only to make u reason with sense....essentially...i love the girl...i wish for a daughter in law just like her....she would be the support every man needs in a wife....the support i was deprived of....i dont want u to miss on that....well anyways its getting late....just think about it....there is no force u know i have always let muskaan and u take your own decisions...." ....with that he walked towards his bedroom....leaving a baffled armaan behind....

**********

~Part 3~

There....perfectly finished....good job samrat....armaan definitely has something with that girl...of course it isnt love....but even if it is a flicker of attraction....my point about guptas and malik should be enough to hit the sensitive spot in his business oriented mind...and at the same time...he will never think thats all i was interested in anyways....i still play the good daddy role for him....well he doesnt know about that loser shashank n me at oxford together and never will....so he can never come to conclusions other than my concern for him....and if i have groomed him right, his professional ambition will make him see how lucrative this idea is....and since that girl is so obviously unlike her father...she will be easy to handle just like radhika once she is here...its the second most perfect deal after my marriage....and like the previous time...there is nothing to lose....afterall...if she is any trouble...its armaans life...he will handle it...and i will get to see the biggest collaboration in the history of london...GUPTA-GREWAL-MALIK tie....n i am the link....simply perfect...shashank...here i come with my third n biggest hit!

*********
~breakfast: gupta mansion~
"ridhima beta, i dont think thats enough breakfast to last u the whole day...have some more toast..." ridz gasped though not visibly hearing those words....oh no! she thought....am i at the threshold of another meeting with a suitor eligible to marry me????heavens save me... so soon this time????...she took another toast anyways and waited for the new story...."beta i want to discuss something that may interest you greatly, you do have 20 minutes to discuss i am assuming..." here goes....well dad if i told you i am getting late for my literature and dramatics class at univ would you let me go???no way....do i ever have the 'NO' option????...shashank knew that ridz wasnt happy with where this discussion was heading, but he knew equally well how the discussion was likely to end on a complete reversal of her mood....he continued..."u do know a certain young lad who goes by the name armaan malik....????"..she gasped a second time and this time it was a visible reaction...dam she thought....dont tell me now father can penetrate my mind as well, along with every other aspect of my life....gosh...does the word privacy apply to anything connected with this tortured soul ridhima gupta...how did father know what i have been undergoing for the last few weeks...ok deep breathing ridzi....listen him out first....seeing her silent but obvious reaction , shashank repeated " u do know him dont u beta????"..."iv had the chance to make his pleasant aquaintence father..." she replied with a strained prudence...."pleasant u say????indeed....he is an agreeable fellow....befitting all parameters of perfection...his father and i graduated together from oxford...so did his mother in fact...."...his mother...that seemed to ring an alarm in ridzi's head somewhere... she couldnt quite pin down what it was right then however....this conversation was preoccupying all the capable thinking grey cells in her head....interupting her chain of thoughts shashank said..."well i have been thinking....and i wondered if you think well enough of the boy to perhaps go out with him for coffee sometime???"....since when did father start asking me about my opinions????reading her thoughts shashank added swiftly "i figured after the rahul fiasco beta, that i really must start taking your consent for decisions in your life. you are grown up and mature enough to know what suits you best...."...there that puts the ball in the net shashank silently smirked....c'mon girl....answer me with the obvious yes you have been wanting to say...."yes father, i do think a conversation with him is worth a chance, but...." shashank looked at her....BUT????now what...."but what beta....is something bothering you????" "well i hope you do not mind me asking, but when did you talk to his family about this???cause i met him yesterday and did not get the impression of his being aware of any such set up..." ...wow this girl can actually think????with what????o well i guess i should owe this to the charms of that slugs son....she must be smitten by him totally....to actually have been able to think out this question..."well that's right beta i have not talked to samrat yet...that's armaans dad...but i wanted to ask you about your thoughts before i made a move this time....its your life after all...." OMG now this really cant be happening....father actually waited to ask me before talking to malik uncle...ummm...future sasur ji...and she blushed....aloud she said "well father now that you have my answer you can handle your way....please excuse me, i have to reach my class in the next half an hour"...with that she made a hasty exit before the conversation rolled into any other unwanted direction.....smiling shying blushing all at the same time....

**********
~malik mansion~

"wake up son...dont u have morning class today???" armaan smiled slightly in his sleepy stupor hearing the voice of his idol, his father early morning...that was rare he thought with his half dazed mind....then it all came back his conversation with dad last night.....he opened his eyes...."good morning dad....i took a day off cause of muskaan's wedding...but looks like you took the day off too????" samrat smiled seeing how smartly armaan had asked him the reason which has eventuated this early morning father son conversation...."yes i have, i figured we should spend time together today since you and i are both likely to miss muskaan on this first day the home will not see or hear that chirpy girl... the life of malik mansion...." hearing this armaan completely forgot why his dad was here and his thoughts went to his sister....n then he thought....how considerate of his father to think this way....n here he was thinking dad had come for his answer.....armaan felt a wee bit guilty for the quick judgement...while samrat who could read his son like an open book knew exactly what he was thinking....its so easy to deal with u armaan...ur way too smart for the whole world, but i still remain your father....bowled you over with my consideration and love dint i????n he smiled....armaan hugged him n said "you are right dad, gime 15minutes to freshen up and join you for breakfast...."i will be waiting for u son "he smiled that same endearing smile...armaan had definitely got his dad's looks...and the charms which failed on no one any age....they had been samrat's single secret weapon in captivating a rich girl years ago....radhika had loved samrat for the man he was no doubt but the looks definitely help turning the tables to ur preferred direction....
Armaan came down...his hair still wet from the shower, looking casually handsome in his black and blue jumper suit, he had never had to put efforts into stealing the show as far as charm was concerned, mused samrat looking at his son....u have to agree with this deal armaan he thought, that girl should be as easy target....already looked like she was falling for you, and i know the way u handle the ladies in your life, it wont be hard in the least for you of all the people to play your charms on her, only if you are willing to play this game....you will.... i know you....aloud he said...."juice????" armaan smiled..perfect diet food for the morning....his dad was fit and active at this age because of how conscious he was about his health, and armaan himself has inherited all of those genes...the charm..the looks...the addiction to being fit to work best...."yeh dad...orange please...so did muskaan confirm where she and rahul plan to go for their honeymoon...i believe they were deciding between the caribean zone or the west american coast...." "yeh she said they decided upon the caribbean the oceans and beaches and beauty is sure to turn on any couple!!!" samrat said with just the calculated amount of mischief the father of a new bride could be permitted.... "i am so happy for her armaan...she has found all the happiness in the love of her life...god bless the angel...." armaan smiled again....and then he thought it was time he answered his dad's question from last night....he remembered having dozed off thinking and re thinking all what his dad had said last night....he knew his dad would never mention it again unless he felt armaan wanted the topic reopened...but he had seen the night before a different facet of samrat... how deeply his father felt about the issue for armaan's happiness and he felt the least his dad deserved was an answer....samrat meanwile could see the topic was coming up soon...he just relaxed waiting for armaan to make his first move....somehow he felt knew he shouldn't expect a straight yes....but he had worked all night on thinking of all possible answers that could come his way and how he could counter them in the most subtle ways....he would get into action depending on armaans reply...till then it was just the 'wait and watch armaam start the topic' phase....

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

~Part 4~

"Dad iv been thinking about what u said last night "started armaan...about time samrat thought....just giving him that 'I am listening ' look....."n well, cant say i have come to a concrete yes or no decision....i mean, i just feel it would be great if i could get some more time to think over the situation....i will be honest it came as a total suprise proposal to me last night when u mentioned it and all iv had time for is to think with great confusion and then sleep over it....its about my life...well i dont really care about the personal aspect since i dont care about all this matrimony stuff....but i do want to consider the issue professionally....ummmm....well yeh....thats what....." he ended...waiting for samrat's reaction....to himself he thought...i did not really think of what i was gona say to you father before i started speaking but here's your reply for now...i hope u wont be disappointed....i dont quite understand where exactly my confusion is....cause like u said its the perfect deal sealing relation i could dream of....the perfect start to my new life after i graduate in a month from now...but somewhere....i just seem to be getting a nagging doubt..... whether or not this is a justified way to attain what i want in life....duno what makes me think like that....samrat who had interrupted neither armaans spoken nor unspoken chain of thoughts so far now quipped in..."i am proud of u armaan....."...seeing his raised eyebrows, he continued "you know armaan thats what i appreciate best about you....you think logically about stuff and dont get swept by emotions even if it was a statement from your own dad...but son there's something i want to add...i know ur looking at this proposal only professionally....however if you decide in positive for it i will be the happiest father in the world...muskaan is happy....and i love that girl ridhima...i know she will make your life a living heaven....cant wait to see both my kids happily settled...of course that doesnt mean you have to hurry....take your thinking time" finished off samrat....now wasnt that what u call shooting the Dunk in basketball son....good work samrat....take ur time son....i know ways of not letting that be a long one!!!...but the answer i just gave you should essentially let you figure out that i expect nothing but yes....n without any visible force!!!alright shashank...time i call you now....we have a deal here old fellow....a deal you cant refuse....n armaan may be confused right now....though why he's confused isnt quite a clear picture to me....but i know how to wipe out all his ambiguities....son....i dont think u know the famous gupta heiress is a student at cambridge too....its time for your 'Coincidental meet'....he had an evil grin pasted inside his head....visibly he just gave his son a look which was a blend of happiness involved in the dream he was seeing for his happy future and a pride having fathered a son like him....

***********
~At Fabric club~
"We will have two large vodka, umm yeh add a plate of onion rings to go with that...." shashank said to the waitress, then looked back at samrat giving him that 'i assume we still have the same taste' look....samrat's call in the morning had been short, unexpected and not quite self explainatory. but in the time between the call and this scheduled meeting, shashank had figured that they were both on the same track once again in life, except that they were not rivals this time....well atleast not for now....samrat on the other hand had given shashank a gap between the call and the actual meet to let his creativity flow....somewhere he too could sense that they were both upto the same thing....n that made him smile inside....what better than to agree on a plan like this forgetting past records...that meant half work done....with shashank and his agreement over this wedding stamped n that emotional girl being an easy target, armaan was the only move he had to make for check and mate.....which he anticipated could not be exceedingly hard....seeing that they were all set to get down to business he spoke up "well old friend, hows it been going all these years....growing empire and a beautiful young talented daughter.....you dont seem too bad...." "yeh not bad at all....so when did you take the oppertunity to notice my daughter " shashank patted himelf for the question ur turn now samrat...."well close to the time u were busy approving my son for her....i would say we had certain synchronism without actually planning it out....muskaan's wedding was one happening evening wouldnt u agree mate?" that's a six on ur spin ball shanx, wats next....."i see you were occupied observing not just your future daughter in law but her father as well....but i agree...synchronism it is indeed....n lets skip these subtleties....what terms did you plan for the collaboration????" shashank asked, not wanting to waste too much time putting each other down....there would be chances for that in due course of time....samrat on the other hand had won over shashank everytime cause he made his moves with complete calculation....he answered "so i safely presume u approve of this marriage...."getting an impatient nod from shanshank "and does ridhima?" "samrat, do you have to ask the obvious???i wouldnt be sitting here with you without a confirmed backup...now can you stop digressing from the point...." "in that case, i figured we 3 could set an unprecedented record..."seeing a confused expression n thinking within himself, ur alwayz such a slow coach mate, he resumed "u me n grewal of course....u dint forget rahul married my daughter did u????" now that pun should touch a sensitive spot shashank i know n it was intended as u will figure out i assume....but i need u to know explicitly who will be the boss post collaboration....among the four future heirs 2 are mine and thats a fact i wont let u or grewal overlook....letting his comment drive the nail well inside he resumed "so i guessed it should be equal shares for all four kids....." shashank looked at him with a bowled over look n thought...oh god why did i not think he would do this....such an obvious move for him....he spoke up "well that does give u a tremendous edge....what makes you think grewal n i will comply????" samrat had been ready for this....such an obvious question shanx n put forth so directly....ah well, that's why u always lose to me mate..."well theres more reasons than u can count off on ur fingers but lets begin with the main ones....if i am not wrongly informed you have been trying but in vain to hook up ridhima with suitable heirs from all over london....but this time without effort things really did fall into place....she likes armaan, n so u know there would be no issues for once in her life....grewal doesnt interfere much with rahul's decisions he isnt like u and me u very well know that....n rahul n armaan will never work without a collaboration of equal divides between them they are heartfelt best friends....lets sum this down to the fact that the trump card here is ARMAAN MALIK....and since he does what i say everybody does what i say....does that seem reason enough for now shanshank????" i leave the ball now in your court mate, thought samrat....but i know u still have to play the game my way!!!!shashank was disgruntled by this upper hand samrat would reign with, but the whole set up was so tempting...to be associated with the biggest ever collaboration in the history of this queen's city....he just could not let it go....and he knew samrat had this figured out....well i'll beat u in your home court the moment i get the chance dude....but for now...."deal it is then....where do u propose to begin???is armaan on the game???" "well he is almost....but not quite....so now we need to join hands to get him on to the deal....they r both studying at cambridge...here's my bait....."....n so he revealed his masterplan covering all minute details n by the end of it shashank had to agree this man knew exactly what the word 'foolproof' implied...."done...ur on" he said n they both went their own way after sealing the deal with a handshake...

***********

~next day cambridge univ scene 1~
inside the girls green rooms "ridzi are you all set its your scene next, n u know well this show is selling houseful thanx to ur name heading the list of artists....we want no mistakes" ridz smiled hearing her instructor's commanding yet encouraging tone. ms. emily winick was her drama literature class instructor, it was thanks to her skill as a teacher that ridz had found the true first love in her work....enacting rich literature based plays....well she smiled to herself...her first loves....armaan might be a name on that list soon....or was he alreday there....she blushed deeply...."perfect " she heard emily again...."thats the perfect look for the proposal scene....i am so poud of you ridz...this is the final rehersal before the play will start its one week long shows tomorrow....we are all counting on you....you know this isnt just about us making big as a team....its about the charity the tickets will amount to....our sponsor has funded us all through with this play only because we promised to donate the earnings to charity...and she really really cares about how well this will turn out....we dont want to let her down....not just for her financial back up but for the wonderful intentions she has...right???" ridzi smiled in agreement...and then something struck her and she asked "hey emily, who is this sponsor anyways i still did not get to meet her...." well she doesnt want to be revealed not even to the cast....." slightly disappointed ridzi said "but i really wanted to meet her....atleast once...."...."well maybe i can show her to you from a distance....she will be in the audience today for the final rehersal...she does not want to attned the main shows as someone might spot or recognize her....how about i point her out to you today....thereafter its your way of how you talk to her alright???" emily knew ridz could be trusted with confidential information....and she knew the only motive ridz could have in meeting this generous donator was to thank her....so she conceeded.....ridz gave her a thank a ton smile n got prepared to her scene.....

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

"yes sir i will call you as soon as i see Ms gupta finishes her performance without her getting suspicious..... i will do exactly as you have instructed me to...absolutely sir...yes i know the consequences of failing to carry out your orders sir "steve finished off the last sentence quietly...he had served the guptas for over 25 years....from before ridhimas baby's birth.....n was deeply attached to the girl as an elder of the family would be....he felt bad about being involved in a plot....he dint even know the motive only the part that involved his action...well he just had no options but to do as was told....

*************
~meanwile...~

i'm sitting at the wheel
i got a green light
not afraid of nothin' cuz heart and soul
i'm built for life

so let the engine roar
push the pedal down
i want the white lines on the highway
to lead me out of town

i'm rolling on and on and on
who knows where i'm goin'?
life is an open road - it's the best story never told
it's an endless sky ' it's the deepest sea
life is an open road to me
life is an open road to me......armaan lowered the volume of one his favorite bryan adams' number as he heard his cell ringing....dad???? "hello dad!..." "where are you right now armaan?i need to meet you..." huh????but i just left home an hour ago armaan thought "right now dad????well i was heading towards univ basket ball court for the practice session...but i can drive back home if its urgent...." "no i will meet you there in half an hour...at Baristo....be there for sure....it is important indeed..." with that he cut the call as abrubtly as he had dialled the number, not giving armaan a chance to cross question....armaan meanwile was baffled....wat could it be....i hope everything is fine....half an hour before i know whats the issue....hmmmmm....thinking he parked his benz into its usual spot outside the basketball court....stepping in he smiled....court...this word was the first and only love of his life....be it the basket ball court or the law court!!!!he loved them both with complete passion....at the back of his head however he still wondered what it was his father wanted to talk about..so much so that it couldnt wait the duration of his game even.....frowning slightly he started his warm up laps...i will just have to wait i guess.....

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

"shashank its the basketball court close to the southern side of the campus.....there is a wonderful small but chic cafe in the vicinity....Baristo de cafe.....perfect spot for the plan"....."consider the job done samrat"..."well ur on mate!!!cheers to the part one accomplished!!!" both men put the phones down with smug smiles......

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





Edited by spln - 21 December 2009 at 4:34am

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spln

IF-Sizzlerz

spln

Joined: 06 December 2007

Posts: 11036

Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:34am | IP Logged
~Part 5~

Ok ridzi, that wasn't bad at all, she thought to herself her smile reaching the corners of her lips. For every minute of playing Helen of Troy on stage, she had imagined armaan doing the romantic lead opposite her....and the lines had flowed so smoothly, the expressions gaining perfection effortlessly, cause she wasn't acting at all, she had been herself in Helen's character. As she crossed over to the end of a whole surge of people congratulating her on her performance, she almost walked into a lady standing at the door of her changing room. "you were the perfect helen dear, beautiful graceful and loving. that performance looked nothing like a performance, it looked real. congratulations and good luck for the week ahead." saying this the lady walked off....ridz smiled and then...huh????what was that she did not even let me think or react....and hang on....why did she look so familiar....interupting her thoughts, (somebody always seemed to do that) emily came up to her smiling and excited "wow ridz...that has to be undoubtedly your best performance ever....you better maintain the level all through the week and....ridz????are u even listening what happened????something on your mind????" "that lady????came and congratulated me n walked off before i could get time to react....she looked so familiar....and...." "of course she looked familiar she has been seeing all your rehersals for the past month u must have seen her around....ridz its her....the sponsor...." ....ridz jerked up "what????oh that was her....omg....i met her and did not know...."she looked a bit crestfallen....then looked up hopefully "perhaps u could tell me her name and i could try meeting her emily????" "i am extremely sorry, frankly i revealed more than i was supposed to but their are ethics i just cannot overlook anymore....and anyways...she liked your performance thats great she doesnt speak much usually if she came all the way to congratulate you u must have impressed her...that is great news...now just relax, bask in the glory of todays performance and keep the level high for the week ahead....u will need it...take care sweetie"....ridz smiled at her slightly...still wondering she was about to enter her section in the green rooms, when someone ran out banged into her....its was rachel, the dress designer..."ridz its your dad's call "she said in an urgent tone handing over her cell..."he has been calling since the last 10minutes, ever since your performance got done....wow he must care so much for you wanted to congratulate you right away i guess!!!" ridz took the phone with even greater confusion enveloping her for she knew that would be the last reason her father would call her...what was happening today???? "hello father..."she started..."ridz meet me at home immidiately beta....something urgent came up cannot talk on the phone we must meet right now...."he rushed through the lines which was so unlike his usual drawl thought ridz, and not getting much time to wonder she replied "dad il will just change n move out of here and..." interupting her again he said "dont bother changing beta ur headed home anyways just get started....i will see you then" saying this he cut the call....ridz was more confused than ever in her life....could somebody explain what exactly was going on....first that lady....ok leave her....whats with father now....anyways, she thought with resignation to her complete confusion....if he insists i just have to go...will collect my stuff later....and off she walked to towards the park lot where steve , who had received further instructions was waiting....looking at her he could see she looked just not herself...um sorry young lady.... i dont know whats cooking and i hate to be involved but i hope it isnt anything too bad for you....aloud he said with a small smile "i heard the performance went great ms.gupta??...congratulations!" hearing his words ridz smiled forgeting her worries for a moment...."thank you steve you never miss this do you, after any performance of mine..."smiling she squeezed his hand and continued "thanks...it means alot!" and took the back seat of her BMW....
meanwile after putting the call down shashank smiled to himself...this is perfect ridhima......there's is no way armaan could even dream of a plan behind any of this now....considering specially that you did not even change out of the costume!!!

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

its almost time thought armaan....guess i will just jog to the baristo....its just a 10mins run... haven't had a chance for the complete workout anyways....thinking he moved out of the court, beginning with a slight trot and then gaining pace....finally...gona get to know what it is dad wants to talk about so suddenly....

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

just as they were closing in towards the south part of the campus very close to the students favourite hangout zone...where they had a whole zone of cafe's the BMW started getting jolts....and then just about midway between the sports complex and the chain of cafes the car came to a complete halt..."what happened steve???"asked a worried ridz...she knew what her dad meant by the word urgent now what was steve doing she did not want to get late for this...."sorry ms gupta something with the car let me check" omg....what a day..."alright but please try and hurry this up....father is not likely to be pleased with any delay today...."...hearing her say the last statement steve just looked down not wanting her to see the guilty look on his face which he was incapable of hiding....after a couple of moments ridz decided to get out and check for herself what the problem was...though reluctantly...she wasnt in the most suitable dress code for a student hangout area...the day it seemed had started out her way....but never did things continue being her way too long...."so what problem are we looking at steve...." "it looks like a slightly deep rooted damage ms. gupta....the engine isnt reacting at all....i dont have any idea this might take a wile....why dont you wait in the car...." great! thast all i needed thought ridz...she dialled her fathers number not quite happily for she had no idea how he would receive this particular breakdown of the car right now...."father, i hate to say this but the car broke down and..." "interupting her for possibly the umpteenth time today shanshank said "ridhima i was just about to call you our meeting will have to wait ....i just got a call from the board of directors....although my point with you is urgent, i cannot possibly escape this....you go ahead with your plans beta i will see at 7 for dinner tonight"...again he put down the phone without letting her speak....there now shashak...all set...just sit back n watch the fun....smiling he dialled samrat's number...he was going to take over from here on....
ridhima on the other side was getting disgruntled now....had she not been the patient ladylike yet meek girl she was she would have screamed....what in the name of heavens was happening...everything is so mixed up n now dad says he will meet me later...if only the board had called him a wee bit earlier atleast i wouldnt be stuck here as HELEN OF TROY....heck....oh well guess i might as well go in and grab a coffee...n a snack...havent eaten for ages....um famished....and anyways its not like the scene id make by walking in these clothes into the cafe could be worse than standing out here next to a wrecked up BMW in a greek costume....half of them are looking at me like um shooting for a new innovative BMW advertisement....could this get any worse...thinking this she turned and *BANG*...

**************
alright almost there armaan....ok...this feels good now.....jogging is always fun....now for a coffee...and chat with.....OMG....what the hell is .....THAT?????he stood there gaping at what he felt was a mesmerizing sight....flowing brown red hair with soft curls towards the lower ends adorned with a tiara....a beautiful golden outfit just above her knees.....the perfect curves and profile look....she was definitely an incarnation of some greek goddess....like literally!!!....even dressed as one.....and OMG....is that....no it just cant be....RIDHIMA GUPTA?????without realising what he was doing he started walking towards her in a complete daze and *BANG*

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


~Part 6~

Guess i spoke too soon about the day not getting any worse, thought ridhima, as she stared into those captivating hazel gray eyes she had fallen for so inescapably that they wouldnt let her be alone even in her dreams....OMG....did i have to collide with him of all the people she thought rubbing her head slightly at the spot where she had hit it against his....oh what a mockery um going to make of myself before my knight in the shinning armor....she looked at him with a mixed look: smitten, embaressed, blushing all at the same time....
as he stared into her emerald green eyes, he wondered how he hadnt noticed them in the two previous encounters....and a smile which had started to form the moment he had seen her was now vividly playing on his lips...."its ok armaan you dont have to limit your amusement to a smile out of sheer courtsey, i know um presenting quite a sight here with this whole scene...."she said in a tone of resignation to facts....there wasnt much she could do about it she thought except curse her fate..... he was brought back to reality by her words...he shook his head slightly to get back to clear headed thinking and said...."ridhima...what a pleasant suprise...ummm....guess we have to meet with a bang all the time...n u got me all wrong there...u look beautiful....i mean....different and ....nice....havent seen anything like this so....u know...." for the first time in his life ,armaan thought, kicking himself mentally...his usual charm wasnt flowing to him naturally...he tried hard but just could not come up with a quick smart one liner...which was always a cake walk for him when talking to a lady....buck up dude.....its not just any girl....she is the key to your fortune remember, he thought chidding himself for the weakening he had felt by her beauty those past few moments...but well, he could still handle the situation, "would u...."he started only to hear his phone ringing flashing dad calling....OMG he thought...dad...."excuse me for a moment" he said looking at her and walking a little further "yes dad i am just reaching and "...."no armaan dont come...get back to ur game son i am really sorry but i got tied up with something urgent here....just cannot make it right now....was trying your phone for the past15minutes it was out of reach strangely....carry on with your game...will see you for dinner tonight at home...." saying this he cut off the call as swiftly as his partner in crime shashank had....armaan looked at the phone in a wierd way...scratching his head he turned around to see....GOSH...shes so cute....he thought as he saw her trying to get the tiara off her head but in vain since it got struck in a strand of hair....he moved forward to help her...wow..what lovely soft tresses he thought ....she gasped ever so slightly feeling his hand on hers helping her unentangle the tiara from her hair....she moved her hand down almost instantaneously, and her reaction jerked armaan out of his second.....well....no no no man....he told himself....he was just in a confused state of mind with the happenings of the day...his dad n the two calls ....thats all....nothing with the girl of course he told himself finally getting the tiara off.... "here u go, it wasnt looking that bad though why did u want to get it off???" dam...dude what are u saying...."just teasing" he added swiftly before she could react much..."the point is....why do we have a greek goddess stranded next to an apparently broken down BMW??? on ur way to some place urgent????" he asked...."well its not a greek goddess excatly...its helen of troy...n it is a consequence of my lead in the troy show which will be running from tomorrow for a week, and um still in the costume because as u almost correctly guessed i was headed some place urgent....but not anymore....incidently the breakdown of the car and the calling off of the plan were almost simultaneous happenings...funny string of events iv had today....."stopping abruptly she wondered why she had rattled off all that information to him....she hardly knew him n having fallen for him wasnt reason enough for her to reveal all this....why did he make her feel so comfortable to share stuff with...it had always been this way she remembered how easy it had been talking about rahul and her supposed set up on their very first meeting....interupting her chain of thoughts (no body ever missed a chance for this!!!) he quipped "well how about coffee your royal highness????"he said with just a certain amount of mischief, to signify a teaser but not to embaress her any further...the joke helped her ease out....she laughed and said "well if u dont mind being a part of this greek spectacle i dont mind..." as they walked towards baristo, armaan remembered he had a game going on which he would hate to miss...well never mind...this is important too....i cant just walk off leaving her alone stranded she looks so innocent and beautiful and.....what are u thinking armaan....ur going with her only because u need to answer dad soon and this a golden chance to see how easy getting a hold on the deal will be if we get married and what kinda woman she will be to tackle as a wife....wife...strangely he kinda liked thinking of her playing THAT LEAD....get a grip man....this is just about ur future professional life....he somehow told himself all that, not quite sure if he was convinced with his own arguments.....
"cafe latte for me and...." he looked towards ridhima "sorry gorgeous we dont have any greek drinks in here" said the handsome guy waiting behind the counter giving her a cute warm smile....ridhima blushed but did not look exactly uncomfortable with his comment "il do with a hot chocolate for now in that case....we modern day greeks have taken a kind of liking to english tastes" she giggled looking back at him...he smiled back and asked "would it be a single or seperate billing for you both?" before ridz could speak up armaan said in a rather possessive and slightly irritated tone "i am paying...here's the card....could you have it sent to the table? charge me extra for the table service" saying this he walked off giving ridz a look which implied follow me now without lingering on....ridz meanwile gave him a 'wow what was that all about' look....armaan muttered to himself in an undertone with gritted teeth as he walked towards the table.."gorgeous huh????shameless flirt...doesnt even honor the fact that he is on duty and she is a customer with her date....date???oh well he dint know she isnt my date...how dare he....dude....how does it matter to u anyways....its just her....so what....yeh ...so what...." saying this he pulled on a smooth expression, with great effort...for the third time in the past 20mins.....and begun "so ridhima....what is this troy play you were mentioning....." he just wanted to get into some normal conversation so he could get back to being himself and then it would all be fine...after all you have to judge her during the next half an hour over coffee armaan...think straight now mate...."o well...um a literature and drama major here and we are doing this annual show thing which is done by this class each year...just before end of term....part of it counts for the course credit and we get graded...the roles depend on how senior we are in the course, since i am graduating this term, i got the lead....and well...this time it is kind of special because we are going to turn in the earning from the show to charity..."....hearing the word charity armaan gave a slightly agitated look....reminded him of the social worker in their house....but before any other emotion could grip him she asked "what about you....u look like u just got out of a workout...." he grinned and said "is that your way of saying i smell like a skunk....i apologize lady...had i known i would be running into the greek beauty herself i would have appeared in a more presentable state, just got out of a basketball game actually...." he finished...grinning at her....she laughed heartily, second time that evening, and said "oh no no did you never realize most girls would kill for that athletic look in their guys????" armaan gazed at her with an intended look and said, "i will take that as a compliment in that case....but the question is would u????"...it took her half a minute to realize what he had implied....she looked at him and then down into her hot chocolate and then back at him unable to check the crimson color spreading into her cheeks...."would i kill u mean???well lets say i hope my guy would not make me go to that extent to get him...." she was amazed at her own answer....OMG she thought...ridzi what in the name of heavens are you saying....armaan meanwile was loving ridhima's reactions...finally he thought i have the situation under control....good job armaan...as he saw he drain the last of her hot chocolate he thought...oh no are we coming to an end of the evning????oh no there i go again...wats wrong with u armaan....anyways...the point is dad i guess um close to an answer....dinner tonight....i have something to tell u as well now....consider the deal sealed....congratulations armaan...u will soon be a part of the greatest alliance this city has seen....as he saw ridz lower the cup he grinned looking at her childish ways.....she had a chocolate mustache mark....well a beautiful alliance too he thought and for a moment he was tempted to kiss off the chocolate above her upper lip.....dam dam dam he thought...ARMAAN....stop it man.....passing her a tissue without looking at her he said "u mite wana wipe off the milk mustache....havnet seen too many greek women with that special feature...." gosh....was that a joke dude....bad statement he thought as he saw her looking slightly embaressed....he smiled at her trying to make her comfortable again by implying she shouldnt be offended by his mindless humor....as they waited for the bill to arrive, the old track by peter andre played in the background....befitting the mood in the cafe and the couple seated there perfectly....

I stop and stare at you
Walking on the shore
I try to concentrate
My mind wants to explore
The tropical scent of you
Takes me up above
And girl when i look at you
Oh i fall in love
No doubt you look so fine
Girl i wanna make you mine
I want to be with a woman just like you
No doubt i'm the only man
who can love you like i can
So just let me be with the woman that i love
Baby girl... Shine like a looking glass
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Mysterious girl
I wanna get close to you
Oh, oh, oh, oh ,oh, oh
Mysterious girl
Move your body close to mine

as the song went on....ridz said breaking the quiet dreamy gap in conversation "i love that song....gosh i think i am hearing it after ages....such an old track....it was one of my favorites in high school...." captivated by her soft voice armaan had a sudden question "was it a dedication to u from a high school sweetheart????" seeing her look up with slight shock he quickly added "i apologize for the insensitivity....thats personal...none of my business" he asid the last part of his statement more as a hanging question letting her decide....she smiled back and said "no thats ok....and to answer your question i did not really have a high school sweetheart....some random dates dad would approve of yes, but you know being the gupta heiress is a package deal of not living the life of a common girl....i never felt anybody approach me for who i was as a person it was always ridhima gupta they dated....not ridzi....."she finished a bit lost in her own words...n then suddenly realizing who she was telling this, she quickly added..."but u must have had quite a bunch of girlfriends....right????"while wondering to herself why she for the first time in her life had spoken aloud this thought she had lived with for all of her teen and post teen years....armaan meanwile felt a tinge of guilt gripping him from inside....gupta....he remembered his fathers woirds....dont forget the name gupta and its implication son....wasnt that his reason too he thought????well atleast thats what it was meant to be....putting aside his conflicting thoughts for a later moment, he said "yeh well dates yup....plenty...." and he left it at that....letting her figure out the rest as she wanted....he did not think it would help his case with a girl like her to mention that he did not believe in love...not so far atleast....oh c'mon man...u never will....love only leads to doom.....signing off the bill and collecting his card he got up and so did she ready to leave.....

As they walked out ridz who was trying to fix a pleat in her dress which seemed to have fallen a bit out of place while sitting down collided with someone and looked up to apologize but..."OMG its u again....i am ever so glad to have run into you ma'am....i have been intending to thank you for all you did for our show, and wanted to assure you that we as a team would ensure your motive for charity is fulfilled completely....ummm....i am sorry....but i stil dont know your name and..." armaan who had been rooted to the spot for a couple of moments, now interrupted in a rather steely sarcastic tone "Mrs Radhika Malik...." looking at her....and then turning towards the lady he continued "hello mother....good to see you....how is the social work going" he said all of this in a tone which ridz did not like in the least she looked at him and back at her, she now figured out where she had seen the lady....at rahul and muskaan's wedding...feeling like she was perhaps stuck in a wrong place between wrong people at a wrong moment....and trying to smooth out the situation a bit she said "Oh Mrs. malik...i mean aunty...i dint know u were....i mean...its a pleasure to meet you...thank you so much for sponsoring our show" armaan spoke again in the same hard tone "oh so u sponsored the show and asked for the proceedings to go to chaity...what great thoughts mother" radhika looked at her son with a look which definitely had a love component to it...but their was something else to which ridz could not quite understand....ignoring the sarcasm in armaans voice radhika looked at ridz smiled a warm smile and said "so u r friends with armaan...????" before she could answer armaan said "no mother u are missing a bit here....not just friends....she is the future daughter in law of the malik household...the future Mrs. Ridhima Armaan Malik...." saying this he grabbed her hand and pulled her along with him brushing roughly againgst radhika and walked out of the cafe....

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~Part 7~

Mrs Ridhima Armaan Malik....the words echoed over n over again in her head....she felt dizzy with the tornado of thoughts and emotions spinning in her mind....she was so baffled that she no longer had any realization of being literally dragged out by armaan, nor of the silent 15minute long walk to the parking lot outside the basketball court, where armaan had parked his car....the walk was silent on the outside...but the two minds were inundated with a flow of thoughts way beyond their capability of handling....ridhima was still in complete shock when they approached armaan's car, but he had by then made up his mind of what he had to do and how. for the first time that day he felt clear headed in the earnest knowing his exact thoughts and future course of action. as he made ridhima stand leaning against the car, he called out her name to catch her attention.."ridhima.."he started softly, but observing that his voice would not reach her so easily he repeated saying it much louder this time "ridhima....listen....look at me...."...as the words slowly registered in ridhima's still partially numb brain she looked up, into his eyes...as he looked back into hers he could see they were full of nothing but unanswered questions...he thought to himself, i will answer them all but first u have to answer me....aloud he said "i am still waiting for your reply ridhima..." WHAT IN THE NAME OF HEAVENS....NO, WHAT IN THE NAME OF HELL is this guy talking she thought, finally finding some way within her thoughts....he wants me to reply????to what....i mean when did he put up a question....i thought he stated a fact....a fact concerning both of us, but he stated it...just like that...bang on the point....without even giving me a look or thought....i just dont understand is it just me or is it the men in my life....why do they never bother to ask me what i think or feel before making decisions for me....
hearing her say nothing at all, armaan repeated a third time, "ridhima please....this is important... answer me dam it....i am asking you something...why dont you react....you have to answer me...this is about your life, n mine....no this is about our life....will you say something?????" ridhima gave him a look which offered no redemption and said "what do you want me to say Mr. armaan malik....how about you tell me what you want to hear from me, and i will say just that...i mean since you did not think it appropriate to even consult me before passing a verdict about my future i might as well just comply to your wishes and say what you want to hear now....oh but hang on....you dont mean to say you want to know my opinion do you in any remote possibility????dont bother with that....i have grown up knowing the men in my life to rule my decisions without giving my opinions so much as a thought....you dont have to bother about them either, considering, that you have alreday decided for me, and you, for us the future...the fact that u are the next man in my life, yet another man who will not want to bother himself with my opinion....i just dont understand why i start expecting things from my life when i know i was not destined to expect, but only to comply to the wishes of those who own my life, whose name i bear....my dad for as long as i would be ridhima shashank gupta....n now u, since u just oblidged me with my new name...ridhima armaan malik....my answer u need...my answer indeed mr. malik, to a question i was so dying to hear from you but it never came.....well anyways....i wont keep you waiting any longer....yes i will marry you....i cant believe how eagerly i awaited this moment...well something like it i mean...when i could say this yes to you....yes armaan, i have been waiting like forever to say this yes to you, ever since we first met.... but today i am not saying it just because i wanted to all this time but because you have left me no option, neither will my father eventually i know....you have your answer....i hope you are happy....like all men....getting things to go your way must be that perfect tonic to your ego. you have mentioned it to your mother already, go on and tell all your family about the future daughter in law of the malik household....tell them you won another possession in an endless list of victories you must be having um sure....get uncle to call my father and ask for my hand in wedding soon...father will be only too happy to say yes....but in the meanwile....please excuse me....i need to get back home and rest..i have the show to do for the whole week ahead, if i dont get my head in place by tomorrow i will wreck up things.....take care.....good night....thanks for the coffee....

as she walked off, armaan just stood rooted to the spot...he lost his sense to react after hearing all that....never in his life had anybody challenged armaan's decisions or actions, n she....well he thought....there was not a single word of hers he could refute....but....then abruptly he realised she had just walked off...her home must be some distance and it was getting dark...definitely not a good idea for a lady to walk down alone, specially with the attire she was in, she would attract way too much attention....quickly he got into his car n started his search for her knowing she could not have reached too far....and he was right he found her walking down the south campus road within 5minutes. he stopped the car and ran to her....."ridhima....you are coming with me....c'mon...this aint no time or way to take walks back to home....i will drop you off to your place"...she gave him a look which said it all...a look which asked him with quiet indignation whether he was still ordering her about....realising how he had sounded, he cursed himself inside.....he couldnt explain to her that it was just his concern and he dint mean it like an order.....but he couldnt bring himself to say that....not after the what has just transpired between them....so he just said in a much softer, almost requesting tone, "please....just come and sit ridhima....it isnt safe to walk right now....." "is that my future husband ordering me???" she couldnt keep herself from asking...but the soft and loving soul that she was, she felt bad immidiately realising he was only helping her and said..."i am sorry...." and walked without a further word towards the passenger seat of the benz.....as he restarted the car he shot her a sideways glance....saw an impassionate look, n for a moment he thought, what wouldnt i do to see her laughing the way she was just a short wile ago....but then he thought....armaan...steady urself mate....she is going to be your wife....soon....and you know the whole purpose involved, dont get so weak....she is just a woman....a woman just like your mother....thinking of her he suddenly felt the anger surge within him...it was all because of her....his reaction to her..... that this scene had happened in the first place....why did she....like nobody else....not even dad and muskaan....make him lose his control and logic he couldnt understand....as he swore mentally....he looked again at ridhima, and felt bad for the way things had turned out....it was all about the deal he thought to himself....but business could be handled without making things bad for her as well....thinking this he decided to talk to her while driving...."ridhima i ....." "please armaan...i appreciate your concern and thank you so much for the ride....but its been a terribly long day for me and i beg your pardon but i just dont feel upto a talk right now...." saying this she turned towards the window and closed her eyes....she couldnt believe for the first time in her life she had spoken for herself....but the thing was it was the first time in ages she had dared to expect from someone in her life....and it just seemed like everything had come crashing down....wasnt this what she wanted she asked herself????for armaan to be the man in her life????but somehow the course of events was extremely disturbing....her ideal man armaan was concerned about people around him, n today with that one exchange of dialogue with his mother he had doubly refuted her opinion of him....first his attitude towards his mother, and second his idea of saying such a big thing without even asking her....even if he was sure of her yes, which she did not think he had been, the least she deserved was an equal role in deciding about their future....atleast the chance to say the yes for herself instead of him saying it for her....she hated having spoken to him the way she had, for she was a really gentle person deep inside....but his actions had hurt her so gravely that the reaction had been too spontaneous....and she couldnt think why...all her life her father had taken her very existence for granted, but the same coming from armaan had affected her much more, perhaps because she had a pictured a totally different him....she knew she still loved him, and she did not regret having said yes for the wedding, not like she had much option as she had told him, but still she was sure her answer was a yes indeed....why that was so she did not know except that he mattered to her, even though the reverse did not seem quite so true....and then there was this new big issue....armaan's mother....ridzi just could not decide what to think of the whole thing...she was sure that her intuition supported her sasu ma to be....but armaan...a dominating male though he had behaved like today, did not seem to be the one unreasonable with people....what could possibly have happened to extract that kind of reaction out of him she just could not understand....and why had his mother just borne the brunt of it without a reaction, that should essentially be a sign of guilt, but ridz knew without need of proof that she wasnt wrong....there was some misunderstanding here....what that was....only these mailks knew...or the good lord himself....she was still thinking when the car came to a halt....she did not notice it however and so armaan got out to open the door for her....seeing she was still deep in thought, he said "ridhima, we are home" realising immidiately the implication of that statement he corrected himself "your home i mean...." hoping ridhima had not noticed his mis spoken words...ridhima however had heard them...but decided not to react anymore than she already had that evening, especially since he had not even meant this one...getting out of the car she walked towards the gate of her mansion, leaving armaan staring at her walk away....she turned around just before entering inside and said softly "thanks for the ride armaan...good night!" and walked away.....

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

samrat saw armaan park the benz in the driveway and hand over the keys to their chauffer for the car to be parked in its right spot. observing the extraordinarily disturbed look on armaan's face samrat wondered what had happened, he could not see anyway his plan could have failed....but he waited for armaan to talk....."good evening son! all fine????" armaan looked up to see his father he had not noticed him sitting in the living room so absorbed he was with the events of the evening...he had even forgotten that samrat had to discuss something with him....aloud he said "dad....i made up my mind...." remembering ridhima's words from the evening he corrected himself again "we made up our mind...ridhima and i....we want to get married...." samrat could not believe his ears...he had known his plan couldnt fail him but such a quick result left even the mastermind busted for a second, but recovering almost immediately he said "thats what i had to tell you son....shashank had called today in the morning to talk about your wedding with his daughter....i cant tell you how happy i am son....this is like a dream come true...the biggest triple alliance....i am proud of u son"...for once armaan wasnt quite cheerful for the praise he got from his father, he just left it at that by saying, "thank you father.... i am not feeling too well ate something wrong perhaps...i will take your leave for now, good night"...samrat was so within himself that he happily returned his greetings and let him go without much thought....radhika however had overheard the whole conversation between father and son....her past personal experience enabled her to understand what really was happening....and she did not look delighted about it....quietly she went to her room, without anyone noticing her....

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

armaan meanwile in his room, was unable to sleep...he just stood shooting the basktball into the hoop in his room....missing every shot.....trying to sort out his thoughts. why had he been so affected by ridhima's words...all he cared about in this relation was his professional gain anyways...so then why should it be bothering him, even if he was aware that she had not said anything undeserved to him....and then still thinkin he remembered his fathers words...shashank had called....so ridhima was being earnest about saying her father would not leave her a choice somehow this thought made him hate shashank though why he didnt understand for she had accused him of doing the same...and he had done it....he remembered further his father mentioning the triple alliance....remembered his fathers happiness...n then suddenly it hit him....unlike his last 2 conversations with dad about ridhima today when the idea had finally turned true samrat had not even once mentioned a word about armaans happy married life with ridz, he wondered how that could be true since that had been dad's whole intention behind the relation....the alliance was armaans motive....or was it????he did not know if he thought of this relation as just a deal anymore....definitely not he thought.....he was not ready to accept he had any feelings fo her but he did admit to himself that he did not want to see ridhima unhappy...and he figured her happiness and the alliance were 2 different issues so he would handle them seperately....this thought finally put him to peace....with peace invading his disturbed head, he immediately decided what he would do next to correct his actions from the evening...he knew just what....he wasnt going to apologize that was way too lame for this situation....but there was a better way....thinking of his plan he smiled for the first time since the fiasco in the evening....and then..as he closed his eyes...he saw am image of her in her greek outfit....blowing him a good night kiss....he jerked open his eyes shocked at his thoughts...then just sighed and said....good night ridhima....ummmm ridhima armaan malik.....despite the issue this name had created he had to admit he liked the sound of it....with this last thought, he went off to sleep......

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~Part 8~

As th rays of sun penetrated the slight crevice between the 2 curtains and hit her face, she frowned slightly and tried to bury her face deeper into the pillow, only to be interrupted by...HUH???was she still dreaming about yesterday????or was it really 'mysterious girl' playing somewhere....as she pulled off her sheets she saw her radio was turned on and that was where the song was playing....as she slowly made a move to get out of bed, smiling slightly because she so loved this song...and because...oh well she self confessed...because of last evening....she saw herself still in the dress from last evening, the helen of troy costume, and the whole evening came back in a flash....she remembered how on entering the house after armaan had dropped her she had briefly mentioned to her father about their decision to marry and then excusing herself on the pretext of being tired had just come up. she also remembered how she had decided to sleep in the costume since she just did not feel like parting from the dress she had worn on the evening of her first date...well yeh she could call it a date now she guessed...with armaan....she thought with certain amount of regret how she had yelled at him, like she had at no one before, and though she still felt the same way about his actions her anger and frustration from the past evening had mellowed down and now she wondered if she had not in fact overreacted a bit. she had not even let him explain himself in the car....well what's done is done i guess....that should just be a lesson for your future girl....as she got out of the bed still wondering about the radio...she saw her house help maria walk in with the bed tea...without her even asking maria said..."a certain charming young fellow had come to meet your father, straight from his early morning jog it appeared....before leaving he left me this note and asked me to give it you after turning on the radio for the morning 8am show on this station....i hope the note explains the rest ms. gupta" giving her a puzzled nod, implying that she could leave ridhima flipped open the note which said "have a nice day.....hope u like the request!!!" and she heard the remaining part of the song playing....
Well Ive been sitting by the phone hoping youd call
When time me hear your voice I feel ten feet tall
Body weh you have a make de man dem a bawl
Man a tripover man when time your name call
Your pretty looks surround me like a flowers a bloom
And I love the smell of your elizabeth taylor perfume
Your personality alone light up de room
Just one kiss alone a make me heart go boom
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Mysterious girl
I wanna get close to you
(cmon now,cmon now)
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Mysterious girl
Move your body close to mine....
as the song faded away she heard a bright voice quip up..."good morning, this is denise, and you are listening to me on 94.9 BBC London love's calling....that beautiful classic was the first track of the day, and now we have on air the caller who requested the song..... hey there...what's your name" and then ridhima jerked up as she heard the familiar voice saying "hi denise never mind my name for now....she will know who i am when she hears my voice and if she doesnt she will definitely recognize the song....i want to wish her good luck for the day...its a special day for her, and i just want her to know that um sure she will rock the performance...." "ooooohhh anonymous call huh???well dude atleast tell us who the girl is and why this particular song???" armaan started swiftly"well the girl is.."he paused not sure of what he should say..then continued "you know what i will let her decide our relationship status this time....but this song she mentioned was her old favorite from high school, and so i thought she might like the sound of it early morning....not the perfect good luck song i know...but she likes it thats what matters i guess....well thanx denise...nice talking to you and thanx for playing my request!!!"...with that the show went on but ridz heard no more....OMG she thought....armaan????he requested that song for me....she pinched herself....yeh yeh lady its all true....happening for real...but....o boy....i so should have not yelled at him yesterday....i mean there are more polite ways of making your point ridzi....she looked upwards at the ceiling as if hoping for god to peek through and console her....well she thought....too bad i gave him that first really wrong picture of the kind of girl i am....that was so not like me...i am never like that....but there is nothing to be done now....get up ridzi....u have a show to perform for....hmmm performance....and she remembered his good luck message and smiled deeply...she felt special for the first time in her life....like really special....shaking her head she said.....highschool swetheart request indeed.....from a man who is a high school kid at the threshold of becoming a law graduate....smiling still more...she went to get ready.....

**********

As she entered her scene on stage, she thought of him yet again....actually that was a bad way to state facts she thought...she dint think of him again...she had not stopped thinking of him ever since they first met....the dialogues went on....the romantic scenes taking her back to the former part of the previous evening....in one of the scenes where she was supposed to be getting dressed up she touched her tiara slightly....as if feeling his lingering touch on it from yesterday......it was now her seen with her male lead, the scene of a supposed long awaited confession before he would steal her out of the palace, and as she confessed her love imagining armaan before her she really did see him....WHAT????well he wasnt on the stage before her but looking past the protagonist playing the role opposite to her she saw him sitting in the first row flashing that dimpled smile....for a moment which felt like eternity she was sure they had an eye lock....OMG why was he looking at her like that...and what was he doing here....and....before she could think further, her male lead PARIS lifted her chin....it wasnt a part of the script but she quickly caught his cue and realized that her several second long drift had not escaped him....silently she thanked him for saving her grace on stage....and then the play continued smoothly....because she fought all urge and dared not look in his direction again, she knew she would not survive a second time....his presence for a couple of minutes had zapped her totally, but then she had recovered, and for the scenes that followed her performance had beaten its own previously set records....for somewhere in the back of her head a tiny voice did not fail to remind her at every moment on the stage that he was watching her....

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

She walked through the members of the crew, nodding her head and smiling her eyes searching for only one person.....as each one of them patted her and complimented her...some did not speak just pulled her into a hug....it was one such hug....from emily which she was returning while chattering excitedly when she saw him again, leaning against the wall of her changing room, smiling at her....his hands behind his back....OMG she thought...it was him then, i wasnt imagining....he actually came to the opening performance????and just look at him standing there.....could a man ever look any better????but then something snapped her out of her frenzy and she remembered the latter part of the evening past....immediately she looked away feeling not quite so guilty but just morose within....well he was not as perfect as she had made him out to be she reasoned....but neither was she....infact yesterday she had been just...not her sane self....in no condition can i face him she thought....she had been groomed with such perfection to be a lady, that she found it exceedingly awkward to face the man who had borne her at her worst....no ridzi...u have to get over with this she told herself....if you dont it will always be the same awkwardness...dont forget you are going to marry him soon....you just have to go and talk....stop thinking about what will happen...just go....yes...just go....and she started walking towards him, finally having been released by her excited team members....
Armaan on the other hand didnt move at all....he just kept standing there and staring at her.....she was indeed a great performer....he had seen how every pair of eyes in the hall had been glued to the stage during her scenes....he himself just could not take his eyes off her....he told himself over and over that he was there only to make up for his past mistake....afterall he was marrying her for a big deal....it wouldnt take much of a toll on him to be nice to her when she was going to give him a star studded future......but just as he thought he was convinced with that being his reason to please her....there had been that eye lock....or had he just imagined it he still was not sure.....something had happened....like it never had before with him.....but then he reasoned, she had been outstanding on stage and it was a romantic scene...he must have just been engulfed by the essence of it all nothing more to it....now as she walked towards him with a solemn look he recalled how moments ago she had been laughing and smiling with her team....he felt guilty again blaming himself for what must be the zillionth time to have behaved like a jerk the evening before....but its ok armaan....ur making up for it.....u always know your way back with ladies she is one of them too....or was she special he thought????well of course she is special he forced himself to think....who would not call the gupta heiress special....and well....ummm...ok here she comes....he heard himself saying in what sounded like a strangers voice "hi ridhima...great show there...u are really talented to pull off a performance like that...." and saying so he handed her a bunch of flowers....she took them with a small smile and replied "thanks...for coming to the show....for the morning request....and for the.....FLOWERS????" she looked at the bunch and gave him a puzzled look....grinning at her he said...."well you told me your favorite song so i knew what to request, but u never mentioned what flowers you like so i got one of each kind from the florist....if you pick your favorite from these i will get you a uniform bunch of just those from next time..." she just could not check her laughter after hearing that statement...."armaaaaan gosh...."she said trying hard to speak between laughter "you are so funny....OMG...i have never heard of such a concept to please a girl....you're hilarious...." "and here i was thinking you would be touched deeply by my gesture....but oh well even if you find that funny....its good to see you laugh....."he said smiling....she got a bit conscious hearing his last comment and looked at him and thought ok i have to say it now "thanks armaan....and...i apologize about yesterday.... i mean..i just...well should have kept my cool...and...." he interrupted her "no ridhima...please....you were right its about your life as much as mine....and i...well....i assure you, it will never repeat....by the way....i want to ask you something.....taking out small box from his pocket he looked around....then bent on his knees and said....will you marry me????ridhima immediately looked around like he had a moment ago seeing not much of anyone around she heaved a sigh of relief and said...."armaan what are you doing....please stand up....and taking the box from his hand she opened it with anticipation and curiosity only to find .....IT WAS EMPTY???!!!!for several seconds she kept staring at it as if willing its contenets to show thenselves but as she heard a burst of laughter she looked up to see armaan completely out of his mind laughing insane....registering what had just happened she glared at him....but a voice inside told her to control her anger and not have a second outburst before him....with a strained control she asked "is this your idea of a prank????" looking at her trying so hard not to blast him off he laughed even more but as she continued staring at him....he realized he had to get back to being sober....not able to do it completely he said cheekily "hell no....what makes you think that???ok come with me....." saying this he took out a black satin hankerchief and started to blindfold her....ridhima on the other hand was now totally confused...i wonder if he is drunk???well he doesnt smell like it.....i did not realize my shouting at him had affected him so bad that he totally lost it....oh god....what did i do...."what are you doing armaan" she finally asked her curiosity getting the better of her "shhhh" he whispered in her ear....sending shivers down her spine....she realized suddenly how close he was to her at that moment....she almost held onto her breath without realizing she was doing so....while armaan continued "u still have not answered ridz....will you marry me????" ridz????he called her that....god it sounded sweeter than it ever before had....his voice so close now made it very hard to have restaint over her feelings...she was getting weak by the second and just to get over with the moment she retorted in an unsteady voice "how many times will you make a joke out of that question armaan....yes i will...can you please open my eyes now????" her comment hit him for a moment, and he looked at her with a forlorn look again....but then remembering his plan he smiled and said...."whats the hurry mrs ridhima armaan malik....you are coming with me like this....no questions....there is something you have to do for me.....and yes it is an order from your future husband...." saying this with a naughty grin he gently guided her along the hallway out into the parking......while she followed hardly knowing what to think anymore....just letting her curiosity get the better of her.....like always she thought, do i have an option????

***************
~Part 9~

She had no clue of what he was upto....she tried to talk to him to ask him where he was driving both of them but he started singing 'mysterious girl' n she had no option but to wait in silence....he grinned thinking of her current confusion and anticipating her reaction to his suprise...as they stopped at a red signal he turned to look at her, and was captivated by her looks again....she looked so innocent and cute with those wierd expressions she was giving while muttering something he couldnt hear but knew well they were no compliments for him, atleast for now....he had a sudden urge to pull her into his lap in a hug and cuddle her and sit like that for hours....and then suddenly the honking from behind brought him back....he shook his head violently and chidded himself in silence....armaan dude get a life....at this rate u will never be concentrating on ur work once she is a part of ur life, ur house,....ur bedroom....bedroom he thought drifting away again....smiling unknowingly...he wondered what it would be like to share his room with her....to have sections of this walk in closet covered with her clothes and shoes...to see her before sleeping an wake up to see her face first thing in the morning....to see her come out of a shower and....AAARRRGGGHHHHH....no no no....armaan....concentrate on ur goals....just to stop his thoughts from going any more wild, he decided to make conversation...."so what color do you like your bedroom walls????"...HUH?????o man what kinda question is that now...what crap are u talking????o god help me....whats happening to me...she interrupted his self reproaching thoughts by saying..."shades of lilac and mauve....but if you find that too girly we can stick to whatever you have right now....what do u have anyways????" he looked at her amazed....she had not thought he was a jerk to ask her a question like that????in fact....she seemed to be replying quite seriously...."ummmm they are a lemonish shade....broken white in parts.....but u know what.....if you prefer lilac, we can get parts of the room done in that shade....just need to get some interior designer to figure a pattern which can adjust a combination between the two...."....looking at her again he saw her smiling as if imagining a look in her head....it made him smile to think how simple her needs were and how easily she was pleased....he had dealt with some real spoilt beauties in his school years....and somehow this change seemed appealing to him....yes thats what it is he thought....she is just different and so i feel like spending time with her....just general attraction nothing more....phew!!!n here i was getting scared of some wierd emotions building up within me....dont worry mate.....ur fine...just simple plain attraction....u will get used her soon and then all back to normal....after all u armaan malik...and emotions...nah they just dont go together.....reaching their destination, he stopped the car, n said"ok we are there....wait i will help you get out..."...
she looked at the two showcases full of diamond rings before her as he removed her blindfold....one for ladies and the other for men....and then she looked at him..."what now" she asked...."o god! ridhimaaa....chose your engagement ring what else????or do u like that ring box empty????good for me in that case i get to spend the extra cash saved on my curent girlfriend!!!"saying this with a playful grin, he winked at her....and finally catching up with his suprise she just couldnt help smiling, even blushing slightly....what was this guy....could he not propose a girl in a simple straight way????but then, thought ridz....this is so much better...n so much more special....thinking of how she had been ready to yell at him yet again when he had given her the empty ring case she laughed....and then said "armaan...are u ever serious about things???cant believe i said yes to marry a jerk like you...but i....." she stopped...the words 'love u' had almost left her tongue....blushing deeply this time she said "i mean i guess u left me no choice right????" he looked at her...a bit hurt???....he realized what she had been on the verge of confessing....well she had done it last evening indirectly....but somehow the thought of her saying it aloud.....armaan thought wishfully if he would ever hear those words from her....n then he thought....why should he bother....he did not believe in the word love....it meant nothing to him....from her or from anybody in the world....they were getting married for the deal he reminded himself yet again...and thankfully he was not getting tied with a jerk in matrimony for this deal....he knew what his father had meant about ridhima though...he knew he would always have a friend in her....and thats why he told himself....he would keep her happy....only thats why......
getting back to the rings he said..."which one do u like????"...."i dont know" she replied.."between these three...cant decide which is better....but tell me something which one do you like from the men's section"....looking at her meaningfully he said "you are going to chose that for me ridz.....remember i said you have to do something for me....this is it....chose our engagement rings"....."but armaan....you gotta tell me what kind of taste u have...how can i just pick anything at random...what if you dont like it....and....."
"i chose your life partner without asking you for your choice ridhima....." he said interrupting her in a guilt ridden voice....then realizing that he should have not brought the topic up again, he said in a lighter tone...."guess i deserve to be punished with atleast a ring of your choice.....what say????"looking back at the rings he continued "listen...i trust you....i will like whatever you chose....just go ahead and pick one each....." ridhima just couldnt stop staring at him....slowly her eyes got moist....not hearing her speak up armaan looked at her, and shocked to see the tears forming in her eyes just excusing themselves from the salesman he pulled her to a corner gently....he felt bad for having reminded her of last evening and making her cry....but before he could speak up ridhima said "never again will you mention this alright???i was angry with you yesterday for the way things went just because i was too shocked....but i said what i wanted to and that chapter is closed armaan....i feel really bad about having put you through so much trouble just to please me again....but i also feel pampered and special like never before....i did not realize until now why you were doing all that you did since morning but now i know....it was your way of telling me that i and not just you alone would be making decisions for us and our new life....the song, the flowers, the walls, the rings....u wanted me to see all through the day that my opinions mattered....i am sorry i just saw your meaning too late....i love you armaan..." saying this she hugged him tight...though hesitant at first, her embrace around him spoke in volumes of what all this had meant to her and he just could not stop himself from hugging her back....and then he smiled, realising her last words before the hug....i love u armaan...the words echoed in his head...and he pulled her tighter into the embrace, feeling a comfort he had not felt in ages....never wanting to let go.....

***********

~a week later~

she looked at the diamond which adorned the ring finger of her left hand as she sat before her dresser taking off the jewellery....the engagement ceremony had ended just about an hour ago...she sat before the mirror....looking at the ring and then at herself....so much had changed in the past one week....ridhima was by now deeply in love with the man in her life, the only one there ever was and would be she knew...she had spent some of the best moments of her life in the last one week....armaan knew just how to elevate her spirits and make her feel special, and it never seemed like he had to put special effort for it...just being himself, he would make her feel like a princess....he had attended all seven of her shows, picking her up and dropping her back each day....but she could not cease to think about two nagging doubts...armaan's mum....whom he had told her not to ever mention between the two of them....she had dropped the topic at that but it had preoccupied her thoughts every time she was in the malik mansion....she was convinced there was a misunderstanding for she could not see how either of the two- mother or son, could have wronged enough to bring this day upon the family that they preferred to not interact at all living under the same roof....smrat was politely nice to her but they were not close enough for her to ask him about her doubts, and muskaan would not return right until the wedding itself form her honeymoon with rahul....
her second nagging doubt was what she wondered about every free moment of the day....she loved armaan completely....and she knew he cared for her in the earnest...but not once in the weeks duration had he confessed his love to her....she knew she should not think this way since he did everything possible to show her how important she was to him and how much he cared.....that did not however prevent her from noticing that no matter how many times she said i love you, he would respond in any way except reciprocating with those three words....she had felt during the last week severe urges several times to ask him candidly whether or not he loved her....and if not (she trully hoped this was not the case) then what had brought about his consent for the wedding; but she was scared of losing the fantasy world he had created for her over the last one week by saying something like that and sounding insensitive....to be precise....he had given her so much happiness by his caring actions that she felt very insecure about losing it...perhaps, she reasoned within, it was because she never really had witnessed true happiness before he happened to her....and now that she knew what it felt like, she wanted to lose it at no cost....and so she kept both her doubts aside, flowing with the tide of events....making herself believe that their coming together somewhere was an indication of his unspoken feelings for her...

armaan on the other hand had not been at peace with himself in the least.....his mind had been absolutly ambivalent, battling between his professionalism and suddenly blooming personal life....apart from not having missed her a single day on the stage for the seven days of her performance, they had gone shopping together for the ring exchange ceremony a couple of times and he thouroughly enjoyed the so called shopping sprees which he had always hated like all men, until now that is!!!....for the remaining duration they had stayed indoors either at the gupta mansion or the malik mansion, since, though ridhima had been done with her final course grades in terms of her role as helen, armaan yet had his finals to go. ridhima would stay with him for most parts of the day and sometimes night, while he studied for his exams, she would work on literary write ups, or spend time reading some best seller....occassionaly he would walk into the kitchen to grab a snack, only to see her cooking absentmindedly, while reciting lines from some upcoming street play....he would stand there in silence watching her perform, she being oblivious to existence of a completely captivated man in the same room.......they would take coffee breaks, go for jogs, or for basketball games...armaan had figured in just a couple of games that ridhima was a decent level player who could not be underestimated unlike his past girlfriends most of whom he would let win for the heck of it....he enjoyed her company and their chats....for the first time in his life he felt like he had met an intellectual equal in a girl.....and this was what made him admire her greatly....but much against his logical wishes, admiration was not where the relation ended for him....what he could not come to terms with was his growing attchment to her....it did not escape his notice as to how restless he would feel if she forgot to give him his morning wake up call...or if she could not make it for their usual coffee break in the evening due to some other commitment....in this extremely short period of 7 days, her personna seemed to have grown on him....he would find excuses just to pull her into a hug, cuddle her or give her a quick peck on her cheeks and forehead....everytime they touched, he had to battle within to not go beyond those actions of adorability since he dared not word, even to himself, that she was perhaps arousing in him feelings he had never felt before....everytime she uttered those three magical words of love, he had to literally struggle to not reciprocate them in words......though he kept reiterating the deal as the aim of their tying the knot, he feared to think of ridhima's reaction if this deal was ever to be uncovered as having been the major cause to bring about this wedding....well atleast thats how it had started....he told himself that he should not lose focus....love was a word he could not and would not permit in his life.......he cared for her because she was worth it he told himself.....and anyways they were due to get married immediately after their graduation....but he argued, he would not allow himself to believe that the existence of a woman in his life could be indispensible......somewhere inside however, his heart was beginning to rise in rebellion and refute this statement, as he tried hard to check all in vain.
The date for the wedding had been finalized for June 6th....exactly about a month from the engagement...shashank and samrat who could not wait for the wedding now seeing their plan perfectly falling into place, just could not get the paper work in place earlier than that, and so a month's wait....armaan was restless too....and though like always he told himself it was because he wanted to see the alliance he had waited for so long, deep inside a voice which he snubbed too regularly now told him, that another equally or now perhaps more important reason was resulting in his eager awaitation....ridhima was living in a daze with a calender across her bed where she marked off days as the wedding day closed in.....no girl, she mused, would ever have been so eager to leave her own house, as she was for obvious reasons!...radhika, meanwile the quiet observer to all this had been noticing without fail the change in her son....though initially she had seriously considered talking to ridhima about facts before it was too late, she now realized that perhaps her intervention would ruin a wedding that was made in heaven....she could see how armaan was loosening up each day and she realized it was only matter of time that he would admit his feelings to himself to her and to the whole world.....and she knew how much ridhima loved him....radhika therefore came to the conclusion, that conniving though both the fathers were, they had accidentally done a good deed...a wonderful deed infact....and that she would give armaan...and ridhima and their relation atleast one chance.....she prayed to god her son would not be sacrificed to samrat's schemes and that rdihima, in due course of time after knowing the whole truth, would understand him, for she knew no matter how hard samrat had tried, armaan had not been completely devoid of the effect of his mother's genes.....

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




Edited by spln - 07 May 2008 at 11:51pm

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spln

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spln

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Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:34am | IP Logged


~Part 10~

He stepped out of the hall, after 2 hours of that grilling final....this was the last one....it was taking a wile for the feeling to sink in....finally armaan...ur a law graduate....its all done....welcome to the real world....he smiled to himself...instinctively he looked at the diamond ring in his third finger....he looked at it smiled and said "hey honey, ur husband just became a law graduate....wont u give him a congratulatory kiss???" following his impulse he kissed the ring, wishing it was ridhima herself....he did not stop to wonder or correct himself as to why he thought that way, nor did he try to refute his feelings....his impulses had been reigning over his better judgements for quite a few days now....unlike before.....n he was really happy right now...and the only person he wanted to see was her....to tell her he had made it....to hear her sweet voice expressing happiness for his success....his success...their success he thought blushing....for the first time in life he felt his achievement had a true meaning because there was someone with whom he just could not wait to share it....someone who would be happy not just because he succeeded but simply because he was happy about it...he walked towards the parking fast, knowing ridhima would be waiting there for him, like she had been at the end of each one of his exams...but reaching there he frowned slightly not finding her BMW anywhere in sight....oh well....she might be caught in traffic he thought she will be coming soon....he had missed her wake up call in the morning today because he woke up early and was in the shower when she called.....and somehow he just could not manage to get through to her again, her phone had been engaged for ever it had seemed....he wondered who she could be talking to so long early morning, but the exam was greatly on his mind and he left that thought to browse over it later....for then he had just played her voicemail over and over..."hey honey i called to wake u up....why dont u answer the call???um just gona hope it is coz ur already awake and elsewhere and not cause ur still sleeping and cant hear my call....anyways call me back when u get this...its a special day...i really want to hear your voice" and after a slight pause, "lov u armaan" remembering her words his smile deepened, and at that moment, following his impulse again, he said ever so softly, "love u too ridhima",he stopped short, a bit suprised at himself....did i just say that????but amazingly, having said those words..he felt like he had not felt in weeks....like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders....and then he thought....armaan??r u serious buddy....yes...yes....absolutely....for the first time in my life....i am serious about it like never before...yes thats it he thought getting excited....thats it....i love her....i love ridhima....he smiled n then told himself.....u know what armaan....dude u should have said this earlier....what were you thinking man....ok be reasonable...u were right about not falling in love all this time and all that...but couldnt that be because u had never met a girl like her???i mean ok armaan...u did not mind rahul and muskaan falling in love did u....just because of that one case between your parents....how could you ....do this to urself....more importantly ....to ridhima.....how could you just let her fill in single handedly for the love which you both share....ridhima....yes i am going to tell her today how much i love her....yeh baby....today itself...um sorry sweetheart i should have done this ages ago....but i promise i will make up for all lost chances....love u dearest....and he felt like his joy knew no bounds he wanted to dance all over the streets and scream and tell everyone HE WAS IN LOVE....WITH THE BEST GIRL IN THE WHOLE WORLD....having finally accepted the truth that had been staring him in his face for weeks now, he wondered why he had deprived himself of this feeling for so long....any hatred that he had ever felt for the word love, completely vanished when he said her name along with it in the same breath....he felt like he could never get enough ofsaying the words 'love u ridhima' over and over again, to make up for all the times he had stopped himself from doing so.... to feel the words on his lips, as he had so wanted to for the past weeks....
but where is she he thought, frowning all of a sudden...now this is the limit....how can she not be here today....oh i mean she will come of course but why is she not here on time like always....interrupting his thoughts he heard his cell ringing...there u go he said flipping open his phone and shooting right away "ridhima!! where r u honey??? i have been waiting for like..." "hello son its me..." interrupted samrat from the other side....armaan was disappointed ....n then immediately got conscious...had he said too much????what would faher think???? aloud he said, trying to sound normal and happy "father!...congratulate me father....i just turned into a lawyer....officially!!!" samrat however had not missed armaan's tone from his opening dialogue, but not wanting to push things at this moment itself he replied back in a seemingly cheerful voice "thats why i called you son...i figured you would be done by now...but looks like you forgot to call me today???" he could not refrain from saying that last statement...just to see his son's reaction....armaan was caught off guard, n thought OMG how could i have not remembered father even for a second back then....was so absorbed in ridhima he thought blushing but replied in an affected voice "actually i did try calling u first thing father but somehow i could not get through....anyways...now that we are talking thats what matters...thanx for wishing me father...." and then not wanting to answer any further questions that might come up he said "coming duncan....father um sorry but u will have to excuse me, everybody out of the hall now, n you can imagine what the atmosphere is like....they will kill me if i dont get back to them now....bye father" with that he cut off the call....and heaved a sigh of relief....o hell armaan thats has to be the first time you lied to him....and two lies in a row....u were gona so be in deep trouble today....but anyways....where is this girl....why has she not come or even called till now...call....o yeh he thought and flipped open his cell again to speed dial her number....."the number u r trying to reach is currently switched off"..what the f***...switched off???ridhimaaaa????where are u angel....please call me....um so worried.....just then he felt he was swept off his feet..n then realizing he really was...he saw a whole bunch of his friends from class had lifted him in the air...in his confusion he had not noticed until now that everybody was out of the hall and celebrating his own friends so excited...cheers to armaan...top of class of 2008.....n they gave him high bumps catching him back before putting him back on his feet at last... he smiled at them, hugged them n gave hi fives...while his heart longed to catch just a glimpse of that one person alone whom he wanted to see so desperately right now....where r u ridz he thought again, looking at his ring he wished it was a magic stone which would bring her to him if he kissed it....

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

while the atmosphere around him was all perked up, everybody in a complete mood to get drunk and party, armaan sat with a fake smile on his face, tying to concentrate on what his friends were saying....he had waited for her in the parking for over an hour past his exam making lame excuses, and would have stayed longer, but for his friends who did not listen to him after that and just shoved him into the car, drove to the biggest club in town....but his mind had not ceased to think of her for a moment....he had gone out of the basement where the big bash had been arranged and tried calling her countless times since there was no network in the basement but the answer remained unaltered....her phone was switched off....and now his friends had taken his cell away from him so he would not ditch them anymore but just sit with them and have fun.....they were all already quite drunk and would not listen to any reason he gave for trying to get his cell back....frustrated he just sat there not knowing what else he could do....but wishing for only one thing at that moment....to be with her and to tell her what he knew she had longed for him to confess....his restlessness was growing on him....at last he gave in....picked up the vodka shots lying before him one after the other until hew was done with the whole tray of 16 shots....cheers ridhima, he said putting down the last one....love u darling.....where r u?????

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

As they drove on the streets, all with the exception of Atul, the guy driving, were quite drunk, singing out loud, armaan sat in the passenger seat grinning aimlessly....he was still in senses enough to understand completely what was happening around him, and to still be able to think of nothing but her....however his worries had numbed out thanx to the amount of liqour he had consumed, and so his frown from before was now a silly grin plastered across his face....while atul kept driving stopping at certain points to drop of all the guys in his car one by one....finally when it ws just him and armaan left...he felt a tap on his shoulder,and turned to look at armaan, who said "atul....have u ever been in love, not with ur plants of course????like not the dating n silly stuff....but real crazy love????like when its just that one person in the world you care about, and even when u r with everybody who matters to u, her absence makes you mad and lonely????when you wish for every moment of the day to be with her....just sit watching her without saying a word for hours?????like.....u know what um talking mate???? atul stared at him, he was sober, but hearing this statement from armaan, he thought to himself....um pretty sure i told the bartender to give me NON ALCOHOLIC LEMONADE....i couldnt be drunk....but did i just hear armaan talk about love????? still shocked he said "sure i know what u mean buddy....but i dont think u know what ur saying right now....wow!!!ur talking like rahul....i know ur missing him and muski but still....u really are drunk today ammy....its ok....i will put u back home safely dont worry..." armaan continued to grin at him and said again "i know why ur saying that....but i mean it....i am drunk....but i know what i am saying....um in love champ.....and its the best feeling in the world mate....."and then suddenly looking crestfallen he said "but where is she....for the first time i want to tell her the truth....and she just is not there....champ...please u have to help me.....get me my ridzi....i need to talk to her....find her buddy....please....."saying this armaan went back into a daze....and atul stared at him....ridzi????did he mean ridhima the girl he was engaged to????
atul and rahul were cousins, and these three had been friends since they were playschool kids...in later years the three of them went to the same all boys boarding school, while armaans sister muskaan went to the contemporary all girls boarding...they had grown to be closest of friends...and rahul had fallen for muskaan at a very young age....but for years he hid this fact from ammy and him....because whereas rahul had been the emotional one, smitten in love, armaan had been the 'none of this love nonsense' guy...atul meanwile had been the bridge between the two...he loved having the 2 of them as best friends and knew how much they cared about each other and him despite the essential diferences amonst the 3 of them....in fact rahul had been so unsure about armaans recation to his love for muskaan that when the truth had come out eventually it had been muskaan and him who had told armaan, not rahul himself....they fought over this that whole evening, hugging each other in the end with tears in their eyes.....n then looking at each other saying....wow man....we are gona be related now....and then armaan had set himself to mission RM and had gone out n fixed the ridhima rahul issue quite swiftly, and ultimately the two had been married off....he thought ....this is the first time we are talking properly in about a month now....ever since rahul gave his exams early and left with muski for their honeymoon post their wedding, atul and armaan had been crazily busy with their own exam work...and being totally different fields of study, armaan being the law guy and atul being a botany major they never did have common study sessions which rahul and armaan often had...end of term was always insane....they had met at basketball games, and of course at armaans engagement, which had come as a tremendous suprise to atul, until armaan had explained the deal thing to him.....having not seen armaan much over the month he had not had a chance to witness armaan's change, and his comments about love in this inebriated state now totally took him by suprise...shock he corrected himself....when did this happen?????he had noticed how uncomfortable armaan had been at the bash today right until he got drunk on that tray of shots....following which he had been in this daze....it was just not like him thought atul....the only time he had seen ridhima had been at the engagement and he had thought she was rather a nice girl, more than that he knew nothing....well buck up dude he told himself...its time i get to know her....if she could make THE ARMAAN MALIK fall in love, she must be something.....softly he ruffled his dear friends hair seeing him smiling slightly in his half asleep mode.....he said to himself....sure buddy..i will help u out of course...um so happy for u armaan...if ur finally in love.....

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~Part 11~

As he opened his eyes slowly, a sharp pain shot across his head, which made him scrunch his eyes hard...with effort he opened them again, and realized, he was..AT ATUL'S HOME???exactly at that moment atul walked in with a cup of hard black coffee and a painkiller....handing over both to him and grining at armaan he said..."so ammy, leme guess....this must be the worst headache of ur life, considering that tray of shots was not the only thing u were drunk on!!!!" tha tablet literally got stuck in his throat and he choked hearing what atul had just said....he looked up in complete shock..."atul what are u " interrupting him atul said "ok no digressions i know u lawyers get paid for ur words.....straight to the point....u didnt think it worth to tell me about ridhima right until u were too drunk to keep it inside anymore????" now armaan almost fell off the bed, but not quite since atul held him with a stabalising hand still giving him a stern questioning look....for once he thought um playing your role ammy, the strict guy in charge here....armaan replied slowly, slightly stammering, and completely embaresed "ummm atul....r r ridzi...i mean ridhima... i mean i....its just that....well i never figured i loved her until after the exam today...."he said finally speaking an entire sentence....and then got completely shocked as atul pulled him into a back breaking hug...."OMG armaan, so u did not just say stuf under the influence of alcohal....u really are in love...OMG OMG why r muskaan and rahul not here right now...to see the perfect professional hate guru so smitten by a woman...just a simple woman....hahahaha....god save that poor girl though...i hope she knows what trouble she is in for to have a guy like you fall for her....OMG OMG" he just could not stop laughing...meanwhile armaan was choking in the tight grasp and finally succeeding in pushing off atul he yelled "CHAMP!!! r u going to kill me with lack of oxygen before i even make a confession to her????" then seeing atul's face...trying so hard to not laugh, he burst out himself, and soon they were both rolling over with laughter, and at the end they hugged again..."um so happy for u ammy....finally...the cupid struck that almost dormant organ on the left side of ur body!!!"as they broke off armaan got into a solemn look....then as he looked up his eyes fell on the clock on the wall behind...8pm...."OMG atul what time did we get back and how many hours have i been knocked out????and where is my phone???ridhima must have called....."atul signalled for him to stop and said "u will be suprised to know that even with 16 shots inside u, uv been out for only 3 hours...her love has super effect i must say!!!!n no she did not call....there were no calls or messages on your cell.....was she supposed to????and before we get to any of that....tell me the whole story....n god help u if u miss any single detail this time fooling me around with that so called deal u put forth as a reason last time...." and so armaan explained to him, the whole sequence of events beginning from their very first meeting, blushing at several points, and at others just talking as if he were in a dream.... and finishing up at his realization after the exam today...."there now...u have it ....any idea why she might have disappeared from the scene just when i got both my head n heart in the right place????" asked armaan, hoping earnestly that atul would have some answer to console him..."well my best bet would be asuming she fled from the scene sensing the impending danger of bearing with a lover like u on her back "said atul cheekily, but seeing that the last thing armaan wanted right now were his mindles jokes he pulled on a serious look and said "ok....u said u tried calling and her cell was off....did u try calling her home phone????" hearing that armaan jumped out of the bed yelling...."OMG atul why did u not say that before....hell no....why did i not think of that before....her home phone of course...." saying this he finished dialling the number and heard the ring going...for like ages, and just as he was going to cut it he heard a voice saying "hello gupta residence.....may i know who is calling..." "hey is ridhima there????" "well yeh she just got back from the party like a moment ago with all her friends, i will give her the phone may i...."*cut*....maria looked into the phone wondering what was that all about....meanwile armaan had not waited for her to complete the sentence, cutting the call pulled atul off the bed and dragging him out said..."c'mon champ, we are going to the gupta mansion" in an excited voice....after 5minutes of being in the car armaan suddenly quipped up "hang on.....maria said party????ridhima was at a party with her friends????when she knew it was my last exam today???n she never bothered to even tell me, infact her phone was switched off all day....oh no wait...it had been busy before that all morning too...champ....who could she be talking to????and...."getting a bit angry now "how could she party out leaving me all worried like that....i mean i waited for her for an hour....and actually i would have waited even more had it not been for the gang....and she...WAS OUT PARTYING ALL THAT TIME" he was literally yelling by the end of his sentence....his initial peace and happiness at learning that she was at home was now replaced by a complete outburst at the truth of her whereabouts for the whole day...."calm down ammy....there must be a reason...why are u getting angry without even talking to her about it....we are going there now right????control urself until u hear the truth from her" atul reasoned with his furious friend....."o i see and what motive could maria have in lying to me????c'mon champ she was out partying and how she possibly have a good reason to back up that for her disappearence for the whole day...????" somehow, he had lost all sense to reason....he continued "thats why i never wanted to fall in love....o god why did i have to????see what happens????trouble from the moment u utter the word love...." atul looked at armaan...he looked completely out of wits in his anger....and at the same time helpless and cheated....."ammy all i am saying is what you heard from maria may not be the complete truth....you cut her call midway right..." armaan shot him a blazing look and said "well yeh of course what more was there to hear anyways...you know what champ....just turn the car back....um not going to go and see her and ask her how much fun she had with her friends...nah lets go out champ....we graduated today, u and i....lets go out get drunk and party man....c'mon" he said urging atul to take a turn but atul just brushed him off "no ammy....dont be insane....look....u have to give her a chance to explain....we are going thats it"...but armaan had made up his mind "atul man....listen to me...turn the car around.... i dont want to see her right now....lets go....ok wait...theres a new bar a block from here i know....lets go there...c'mon...." atul looked at armaan in anger and realized his resolve was final...he also figured that the way armaan was reacting right now, he might do or say something to ridhima which she did not deserve and then regrets later on would not help....somehow, his unbiased thinking told him there was more to the story than armaan knew...but since he was not ready to listen right now, atul decided to go with his plan...."alright we will go there....but u are not getting drunk again....for heavens sake armaan...16shots was enough for today....just some social drinking and we end at that...ok????" armaan just nodded without listening to a word of that...all he could remember were maria's words....ridhima...party....friends....he swore hard....why he asked himself....why did u ever think love could do u any good armaan????all he wanted was to get in there and drink over his anger right now....
"champ i will just be back....said armaan after they had barely been there for 10mins....and saying so armaan walked up to a gorgeous blonde, dressed in skimpy clothes and swinging her around with his arm around her waist guided her to the dance floor....if she can party so can i, he thought.....atul meanwile could see where this was going....oh please god, do something he thought....just then he heard a cell ring...he fumbled in his pockets only to realise it wasnt his....and then he saw beneath the stool armaan had been sitting on his cell buzzing with a flashing light....grabbing it he saw the caller name 'ridzi home' flashing...he picked up the call and before he could speak up he heard a voice "oh thank god armaan finally....i am so sorry honey...the battery of my cell went out since i was getting calls all day and i only just got back home and called u first thing after getting my friends out of the room....i mean...how was ur exam armaan???" atul spoke up "hello ridhima...i mean bhabhi...this is atul....dont know if you remember me but"...cutting him mid way she said "of course i know u atul....armaan talks about rahul n u all the time...but...where is he...n how come his phone is with u...." atul sighed...not wanting to tell her everything on the phone, and then suddenly he thought of course thats it...into the phone he said "bhabhi can u come here???i mean we are at the new german bar in town...heidelberg's cavern...armaan and i....can u come here and i will explain...and u can meet armaan here too whatsay????"sure atul i wil be there in 20mins its not too far from my house...see you then" putting the phone down, ridhima wondered why she had not liked the tone in which atul had invited her to the bar...he had sounded tense...if she got that right....but putting off that thought from her mind, she picked up the huge truffle cake she had bought for today...and smiled thinking that finally she would meet armaan and they would cut the cake together....she was dying to see his expressions when she gave him the suprise gift she had got for today....the day when he would finish his exams and also because...well today was special she thought to herself.....and smiled....strangely they had never talked about this she thought, in a month of being engaged....checking herself one last time, she thought she looked pretty, wearing a knee length halter neck dress and dangling hoops and slight heels...all in his favorite color, black....personally ridhima liked red, the color of love, but she figured armaan was not super fond of it....he had however mentioned sometime that black was his favorite and so she had bought a dress for this special day in the same....

***********

as the next song came on, armaan politely led the girl he had danced with for less than 20mins off the floor, and excusing himself...he swore again...dam man....wats with you...why can you not get her out of your head and enjoy.....she was doing that all day...but all you can do is see her face in every girl you dance with...how lame is that armaan....but somewhere beneath his anger, he felt a stabbing pain....how could she do this to him he thought????and why did it matter so much...because u love her u fool his innervoice replied....shaking his head he walked back.....atul meanwile was pleased to see this....having called ridhima here the last thing he had wanted was her seeing armaan with some cheap babe, trying to get cosy with him him on the dance floor...as he saw armaan approaching, the look on his face did not escape him...it was a mixture of anger, helplessness and...guilt....atul felt bad for his best buddy...but he knew somehow that once ridhima was here all would be fine...that less than one minute talk with her had somehow compelled atul to admire armaan's choice when he finally fell in love...she had sounded loving, gentle and concerned...he just knew without knowing her as a person that she was the one for him...."champ....can we just go back home????" he heard armaan say the moment he slumped into the stool next to atul...."yes we can....but give me 15minutes i just saw a friend...i will be right back" saying this atul walked out...he realized the two of them would need to talk one on one and his presence though wasnt likely to bother armaan might not be comfortable for ridhima...and he was sure she would be there in under 15minutes from then....

***********

She looked around her eyes searching for him in the crowded noisy place....o boy...for today atleast i wanted a nice quiet romantic spot just for me and him....what a contrast this is...anyways...where is armaan now...and then suddenly she saw him....his back actually but she knew it was him.....she smiled and decided to suprise him....went to a waiter gave him the cake, and pointing to the table armaan was on, asked him to bring it there in 5mins....then she walked towards him and closing his eyes from behind whispered in his ears "guess who???" giggling, BUT...????she was shocked as armaan roughly shook her hands off his eyes and swung her around hard to face him....looking at her, he just could not hold his anger anymore and said "how was the party ridhima???um sure you must have had awsome fun....and omg look at you....you look gorgeous darling..so which boyfriend took you out for a date...oh sorry...it might be private considering you had your cell switched off the whole time...i apologize...none of my business...."and saying that he shot her a blazing dirty look....ridhima on the other hand was just shocked beyond words....as the words registered in her mind, she felt tears stringing her eyes as she spoke almost in a hoarse whisper "what are u saying armaan?" he shot her another piercing look and said in a steely voice "oh i am sorry...did i get wrong information????were you not at a party all day???? "yes i was armaan but that was because... " "he cut her off..."no need to explain sweetheart, i dont want to know...its ur life do what you want...we are just getting married day after tomorrow not tied to each other...." hearing his last statement she just could not control her tears anymore and as she turned to leave she alomst banged into the waiter who had got the cake...without looking at him she walked out...while the suprised waiter put the cake in front of armaan and said, thats for you from ms gupta sir...saying so he walked off and just as armaan was going to throw the cake off the table in sheer anger, he was shocked by what it said...."TO THE NEW GRADUATE FROM THE BIRTHDAY GIRL".....

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~Part 12~

He stared at the cake dumbstruck for several moments, and it felt like the world had stopped for him....DAM IT he thought....birthday????its her birthday today????thats why she was....OMG....what did i do....shit and all that crap i just said to her instead of what i had been waiting to tell her all day and....dam dam dam....saying this he ran out of the bar grabbing the cake swiftly and going out carefully making sure nothing happened to it.....ridhima in the meanwile had rushed towards her car in the parking lot colliding with many on the way out since she was blided by the streaming tears. she was greatful, to see it was dark outside and not many people around to see her in that state....as she finally reached her car she got in and slumped on the seat her head on the steering and burst out crying....she felt completely broken...how she had longed all day to see his expressions when she gave him the cake and then the gift....the gift....remembering it was still in her bag, she ripped it open and looked at it for a long moment before opening her window and throwing it out.....but....instead of hearing the crashing sound she had expected she just heard a familiar "OUCH" and turned around just in time to see him trying to catch the gift with one hand, balancing the huge cake with the other, and slip hard on the pavement in the effort of doing so. as he opened his eyes, he saw the cake had fallen messing up his clothes, his hair and even parts of his face, but he had managed to save the gift from breaking....as she rushed out of the car instinctively to help him, he saw what it was....a huge glass frame with their picture from the celebration on the last day of the performance of troy, him giving her a peck on her cheek, his arm around her, as she stood smiling but blushing in her greek outfit....painted below in her tidy writing were the words "LEGALLY YOURS!!!" smiling inevitably, at her innovative and deep thinking for planning his suprise, he looked up to see her put out a hand towards him, he was going to grab it to get up, but instead, she snatched the frame from his hand and tossed it away again, but he sprung up and caught it a second time just before it crashed on the ground...."whoa girl...um not practicing to enter the cricket team yet, take it easy sweetheart" hearing him say that she gave him a fiery look, and putting the frame on top of the car, he just stared back feeling completely guilt ridden seeing her tear strained face and thought how could i hurt her so much....and then...she looks so beautiful today.....and instintively he first looked at himself in complete mess with the cake, and then looking at her again, pulled her into a hug, wrapping his arms around her in a tight embrace....first she struggled to get out of his grip, but realizing she would not succeed, she just gave up, and wept softly with her head resting against his bare chest where the top few buttons were open....."hush hush" he said, softly stroking her hair, and feeling more pain inside with each new tear he felt flowing from her eyes upon his chest....."hush honey.....i know i should be punished for even uttering these words but please forgive me darling.....i just spent the whole day so worried about u, and then when i learnt about the party i just lost it totally....atul said i should talk to you before getting impulsive but no, how i can ever listen to anything that makes sense....um really really sorry princess......u were always right about me....um a complete jerk, who knows everyway to hurt the woman he loves...."...ridhima, who had been crying silently hearing all those words suddenly turned stiff....the woman he loves???had she heard him right???feeling her stiffening in his embrace he losened his grip and pulled her apart to look at her.....as he gazed into those innocent questioning emerald eyes, he knew why he had fallen her for her so completely and wrecklessly, and he promised himself to never let another tear enter the eyes of his lady love again....ridhima finally gathered her wits and said..."what did you just say???? grinning at her he said "me??? i said i am sorry sweetie" "no no after that" she asked him impatiently, "well i said forgive me for being a jerk" he said teasing her more...."and????"she persisted "o god what did u hear?????" he said with mock irritation while she looked confused and crestfallen and said "no i just thought...." and then remembering that she was angry with him for how he had behaved with her minutes ago in the bar, she pushed him and said "let me go armaan....see what u did...spoilt my new bday dress and now i have cake all over me and incidentally i had bought it with the idea of eating it not using it to decorate ourselves and...." "and i love you" said armaan putting a finger on her lips to silence her....seeing her expression go from irritated to dumbstruck to embaressment and finally settling down to a blush, he continued "is that what you thought you heard me say????you heard it right....i did say, would u forgive me for being a jerk to fall in love with you????" as she shot him a dirty look again he smiled at her naughtily and said...."well wouldnt you agree????i have to be a jerk to fall in love with a girl as wonderful as you, and then expect you to love me back too!!!" pausing he said in a more serious tone "i mean look at me...dont know the first rules of how to treat the woman i love like crazy, and look at you, not just tolerating me but doing so happily????why are you the way you are ridhima????how do you stand me????" seeing that he had been serious about this question she felt bad about the way the events had taken place....she realized how her sudden absence must have worried him and then knowing about the party without its cause had just knocked off his senses....but she realized the whole reaction had resulted only out of his sheer love and concern, so she decided it was her turn to lighten the mood... she said "well lets say ur macho looks play a vital role and turn me on???" and saying that she winked at him....he was bowled over for a few seconds, but recovering almost instantaneously, he flashed his gorgeous smile and said in a low seductive voice "really???" and saying so he pulled her closer again and stared at her intensely, causing her to blush and lower her eyes, while he raised her face holding it gently with her chin causing her to look back at him and said "i love u ridhima....its been coming to me for ages now...i guess from the first time u hugged me at the jewellery shop, and i should have said it much before this moment.....but could u just forgive me once and for all, just add this to the endles list of mistakes i have made and hurt you with, and i am ready to take upon myself whatever punishment u think befitting.....but i love you sweetheart....i really do...."and not finding another word to express what he had been dying to tell her all day he just looked at her hoping she knew how deeply he had meant those words, letting his eyes complete his extremely procrastinated confession....she finally found the courage to look back into his eyes, they spoke volumes, and she let her silence answer back in affirmative, implying that she knew what he meant and that she felt exactly the same way...aloud she said "would you expect me to say i love u too???if yes then your punishment is that i wont say it...because not only did u yell at me inside, but u also did not praise my gift for u...u did not notice i was wearing ur favorite color, and to top it all u spoilt my dress and my hair and the cake all at the same time....that gives me reason enough to punish u and not say what u want to hear...."and she looked straight into his eyes with a fake indignant look...."hmmm" said armaan, then pretending he was thinking by looking in the thin air he said "ok never mind saying those words as long as u act upon them, and saying so, he pulled her closer and gently kissed her on the forehead...."seeing her blush he continued whispering seductively close to her ears "besides i do have a solution to fix the problem of ur messed up looks....."and saying this he gently kissed off a small bit of cake from the side curve of her neck.....as ridhima gasped, he proceeded to kiss off the cake from all over her face and finally coming close to her slightly trembling lips, he paused to look at her, seeing her eyes closed but her expression calm yet expectant, he kissed her, ever so softly on her lips, and then as he felt her reciprocating, he kissed her with much greater passion, not wanting to ever let go, making up for all the times he had checked himself from doing so in the past few weeks....when they finally parted, he looked her with a serious expression and lifted her face till she looked back at him and asked in an extremely grave tone "mmmm yummy!!!what flavor was that cake ridzi???iv decided to never to eat a cake unless its the same flavor????i have to admit uv got an incredibly tempting choice....a guy like me...and a cake flavor like that...good good....i never have to think about chosing stuff anymore, i trust ur choice blindly now!!!" hearing his words she grinned, while blushing, and hit him on his chest...then said "armaan ur worthless sense of humor i tell you....cant believe you ended that romantic moment with a cheesy joke like that..."and seeing his expression turn soulful she thought perhaps she said too much????"armaan???i was just joking..." and brightening up again he retorted "well thank god then...for a moment i thouht u meant it when u said that was the end of the romantic moment" and he burst out laughing by the end of his teaser....she was completely caught off by this second joke and she thought this guy can never let me remain sad for long...he is so full of life that with him in my life i will never feel low again...this has to be the best birthday of my life and armaan is the best gift you could have given me god...thank u so much....seeing her lost all of a sudden he snapped his fingers before her eyes saying "hey beautiful???who's the lucky one on ur mind????" she looked back at him not really having heard what he had said, and just quipped "i love u armaan...""ah there u go " he said.."yipee punishment over...but u know what if thats the way i have to apologize everytime only to be rewarded by an i lov u at the end....um ready to be punished for the rest of my life"blushing deeply now she said "gosh armaan...ur beyond any limits...incase u forgot we r getting married in less than 2 days, and look at you...flirting with the girl ur engaged to....ur just impossible" giving her a cheeky look he quipped "well would u prefer it if i flirted with girls i wasnt engaged to???i dont mind seriously....u just have to mention it ur greek highness, ur wish is my command, infact " he continued, "say it quickly cause i just saw an amazing brunette chick come out of the bar right there" as ridz turned to look in the direction he had pointed to he quickly kissed her on her cheek and winked at her as she looked back at him with a 'u really are impossible' look....what could she do???it were exactly these charms of his she had fallen for....now she just had to live with them, she thought smiling....like forever!!!!
"well mr.malik....have u really decided to starve me on my own birthday????the cake is ruined as it is...atleast take me out for dinner um simply famished" "absolutely madam" he replied bowing in front of her and asking her to lead the way....she walked ahead towards the passenger seat after handing him the keys to her BMW....

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

"so why was your cell switched off all day ridz?" asked armaan between mouthful of the pasta she had made for them both....after sitting in the car and arguing for 15minutes of where they could go they had decided to head back to the malik mansion where ridz would just cook them both something, or as armaan had corrected her, practice doing what she would have to continue doing for the rest of her life two days from then....ridz had been hesitant to go to her future home with cake all over, but armaan mentioned that dad was out for some work and wasnt expected back until the nex day...he did not mention radhika as usual, and she stopped herself from asking, deciding they had seen enough action for the day already and now she just wanted to spend a peaceful fun evening with him.......coming back to his question, she answered "well i had been getting so many calls all the time ever since early morning, that soon after we reached the hotel where my suprise party was organised the battery died out....and when i asked my friends for a cell so i could call you they refused saying that for the duration of the party i was going to stay away from the phone since i had spent enough time on mine all morning....." as she finished armaan realised a second fact too"oh so thats why ur phone was engaged in the morning too....and i was wondering who u were on the phone with in those early hours...."ridz looked up at him with a funny look and said "oooohhhh do i sense somebody got jealous????" he shot back "of course not....but i did notice someone getting jealous on the mere mention of a brunette chick!!!"and they both laughed, thinking simultaneously, that this was the beauty of their relation....since they had started out as friends, they trusted each other....ridz thought, even when he was worried about me having disappeared all day he did not doubt where i could be...it was just plain worry for my well being....while armaan thought "she knows me so well....and has seen me flirt all the time...but the best part is that even before i confessed she believed with complete faith, that she was the only girl i trully loved...i love her for the trust she places in me, n i will never ever break it" he thought....but as he smiled at her he saw a picture of him and his dad from his first basketball game on the wall behind her, and he remembered the one truth she still did not know....the truth about the deal.....looking at her happy relaxed face again he vowed to tell her all about it....and very soon...but right now he reasoned, they had had enough for a single day, and he just could not see her sad for another moment on this special day of hers, most of which he had already spoilt.....later for sure...at the right moment...he told himself....she will understand when i explain the whole thing....for now she knows that i love her.....and putting the disturbing thought aside with its new found solution, he continued chatting with her, joking, laughing, blowing each other kisses and sharing cute short eyelocks!!!!

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

~Part 13~

"hmmm that was a scrumptious dinner...um full now" armaan sighed with satisfaction "yeh i sure hope so....u have been eating for like the past half an hour...um sorry eating is an understatement, uv been hogging on the pasta for the past half an hour....teme something armaan do u always eat this much????" ridhima said with mock concern in her voice while she had a sly teasing look in her eyes...armaan looked at her, and said "yeh well mostly just this much, but occassionally i get hunger pangs... then i eat more..."grinning at her as she gave him the 'u must be kidding' look, he continued "but dont worry u have emerged victorious in the stiff competition among the many applicants i had file in for this post, so ur hired for the job of my personal assistant at home, to cook all three of my meals, along with just 6 mid snacks, and other general chores that have to be taken care of in the bedroom....congratulations ms. gupta u must be excited about your new job...." she now stood gaping at him and then coming back to her senses finally retorted "fine mr. malik but u have to know that to hire perfection u will have to part with high monthly salaries....i am going to be an expensive assistant to pay....i hope ur fine with that????"armaan saw her immitation of shrewd professionalism which in contradiction actually resulted in adding to her innocent cute look, n smiling once again for the billionth time that evening thanked god to have her in his life, but not losing focus for his chance to win the argument he said "of course madam...so how would u like to be paid..."he said getting up from his chair and moving towards her, continuing "in cash " he paused as he got closer still, enjoying the effect of their proximity on ridhima as her face dropped the naughty look and started changing color to shades of red, and he went on "or in kind... perhaps????" he whispered the last words in a slow seductive drawl close to her ears and his dimples deepened feeling her blush hard now....she looked at him, but not able to stand his hazel eyed gaze too long she turned her head and moved to get up from her chair to regain her composure, but armaan had decided otherwise....he held her wrist, and slowly she turned around and he pulled her into his arms...kissed her forehead softly and said again "so what did u decide????personally i believe i can pay higher wages in kind....in fact i dont mind going bankrupt paying you ur high wages" and saying that he tried to kiss her again but even though she was melting by the minute, she decided to not let him win so easy...pulling out of his hug and looking at his quizzical look at her sudden reaction she said "ummmm....well neither....i quit.....i figured as ms gupta and future mrs malik i will be rich enough to hire you for the same job instead...what say???r u game????" armaan smiled shaking his head...OH MY GOD he thought.... i am definitely not marrying a chick i can simply flatter and win over with pure charm...she is up for competition....alrite baby...lets bring it on then...."sure darling" he replied "i dont mind....but the conditions are the same only positions reversed, and i have decided i want to be paid in kind......and..." he said moving close to her "and..." closer still "and....as a daily wager if you would please...." and he got the kiss she had moved out of just a moment ago...slowly and softly...he left a trail of kisses from her eyes towards her ear, and letting his lips stay in light sensuous contact with her earlobe he resumed "so what would you want me to begin with madam, the man is at ur service eagerly awaiting his orders so he can get paid fast....!!!!" ridhima felt she was fighting a lost battle, all she wanted at that moment was to relinquish this game they had started and just have him kiss her, without teasing....just kiss her hard....as he moved a little back to catch the effect of his latest hit, she hastily tried to regain herself...not quite though.....it was her turn to shake her head at how he never gave up, and then she reasoned...hes a law grad ridzi, the last thing they do is give up in a game of words!!!so she decided to handle this fun war another way, her way...in her domain of expertise..."right, have it your way, i want thai soup and some japanese sushi please...." "oooohhh somebody is on strict diet food huh???"armaan teased her not missing any chance to earn points in these verbal rounds of war...."yeh u guessed right....avoiding oily food you see....this bloke um engaged to, is forever flirting with other woman....i cant afford to lose my savy looks and figure or he is most likely to desert me on the night of the wedding itself!!!!" hearing this they both burst out laughing and between the fits of laughter armaan said "u know u should be so glad i dont do that for real.....woman would kill to cling to armaan malik....but too bad....i just resigned from the part time playboy job to a full time servant to serve the love of my life" he ended the statement smiling yet in a seriously intended tone, with a look in his eyes which told ridhima that he never stated a greater truth in his life...she smiled back at him, thanking heartily whatever stars had conspired to bring them together, then squeezed his hand with love, standing up on her toes gave him a quick short kiss on his lips and said "well thats ur advance payment mr. malik, get down to work, lets see how much you are capable of earning in kind from the lady who loves u more than life itself...

***********

As they cooked in the kitchen for the next couple of hours, it was for ridhima the most fun birthday she had ever had....she just could not seem to get enough of being with armaan, who himself, could not remember the last time he had experienced such effortless pure fun and love...however the romance did no good to the cooking itself....he followed the instructions she gave him for the food she had 'ordered' in an inevitably clumsy way, breaking the eggs to hard, crying while chopping onions, forgeting to turn off boiling milk which just overflowed, struggling to open the new bag of rice and spilling it all over the floor in the process, until the kitchen looked like a a devil's playfield, and the so called food he cooked a complete disaster! finally armaan slumped on the floor, all tired, giving up, but as ridhima sat down beside him, and ruffled his hair with affection, he smiled looking up at her...."um sorry....thats not even edible stuff...but hopefully i will improve with time as a trainee under ur highness???!!!" she hugged the messy him, and said " what crap....i think um gona be bankrupt paying u in kind for the very first job u did, if u improve i will just have no ways to pay u anymore!!!" then breaking away from the hug and looking at him earnestly she continued "i love u armaan...i never thought i would meet a man who would go to such extent just for my happiness....i lov u and trust u like i never could ever before....all my life i thought what wouldnt i give to get a life where i could do things my way by my wish....but now i think i found the man i can blindly submit to and follow, without thinking of the consequences, because now till he is with me, nothing can go wrong...."and as her eyes got moist saying this she got up and moved towards the garden outside, not wanting to cry and spoil the moment....armaan followed her outside and running after her, finally came and stood in front of her....then gently wiping off her tears he gently walked her towards the two seater swing in their garden and made her sit on it, while kneeling down facing her...and said..."i will never let you down....and i will never let anything go wrong....i love u sweetheart...i never thought these words could ever hold significance in my life, but with u, it seems everything else is insignificant except the words themselves" and saying so he pulled her into a tight hug, staying like that for what seemed an eternity.....
lost in their own world in those moments, they did not hear when a car drove into the driveway of the mallik mansion...nor did the notice the man who got out of the car, and about to walk away when his eyes caught the couple in the garden...samrat malik could not believe his eyes...he had just happened to finish his work earlier than expected and came back home only to see this????was that really armaan with ridhima he thought????the same armaan he had raised numb to all emotions???for a few moments he felt like his existence had refuted him to the core....the as the whole scene registered to him, he thought, with anger swelling inside him, NEVER......I WILL NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN....if armaan falls for that girl so aimlessly he will not concentrate on the empire the same way anymore....but thats not the worst....if that girl gets to control armaan, SHASHANK GETS TO CONTROL THE ALLIANCE INSTEAD OF ME.... no way armaan i havent raised u all these years to see u drift away to enemy camp when i need to play my game with u as the trump card....no way....i have to stop this....n soon.....thinking this he went inside, to formulate a plan immediately to with deal the problem at this novice stage.....

***********

As the early rays of the dawning sun started to show up, ridhima shifted a bit and then slightly opening her eyes saw armaan's head in her lap, sleeping away, in about the same position as they had sat chatting in late through the previous night, him on the ground before her, while she sat on the swing.....she smiled deeply, then blushed remembering the events from her birthday eve....then suddenly she jerked out of it seeing the time on her wrist watch as 5am, started shaking armaan gently to wake him up....armaan in his sleep just grabbed her hand and holding it more securely pulled it under his head for support....ridhima saw him and hated the idea of waking him up, so slowly pulled out of his grip and tiptoed inyo the huge mansion to find her car keys so she could go....as she grabbed them from the table and made a move to leave she thought of leaving armaan a note....so she started looking around for a paper and pen, when she heard the familiar gentle voice "good morning beta" she turned around to see radhika standing there in an elegant black gown smiling at her....ridhima immediately felt panic...oh god, had sasu ma been there all night....what would she think of me now....but radhika gave her another reassuring smile, which gave ridhima just about enough courage to ask "hello aunty...i mean...mumma....i mean...i did not se you around last evening" she finally lurted out, and then cursed herself, as her words made it obvious that she had been there all night.....further more ridhima realized she was still in her black dress which after the cooking disaster session did not have just cake but several other varieties of tit bits on it.....she kicked herself mentally for not having come and changed into clean clothes last evening....but she recalled also how hungry they had been and so never thought of it and the post dinner series of events left no time to appear mor presentable....she stood there just wanting the earth to gobble her up so she would not have to face her sasu ma in this state.....but radhika who stayed in her room all the time, had not missed the fun laughter and the love which had adorned her house after many years, not wanting to interrupt their fun she had refrained from showing her presence....now, sensing how awkward ridhima was feeling she moved forward and hugged her lightly....saying "no beta i only just got back from a social work errand a couple of hours ago....but i am so happy to see you....i hope you both had a great time celebrating armaan's grad eve...." pausing a bit, and feeling that ridhima now seemed a little bit eased out she added "thank you so much beta....you have given armaan the true happiness he has long deserved....god bless u both with a happy married life" then releasing her from the hug "were u looking for something beta????" quite at peace now, ridhima knew now why her intuition had always supported radhika, she was a wonderful and warm woman, and her last few minutes putting ridhima at ease, realising the whole situation, without appearing to do so proved it, n this strengthed ridhima's resolve to solve the issues between mother and son, once she was a malik officially....getting back to the present moment she answered "well i wanted to leave a note for armaan so " ridhima interrupted "il fetch u paper n pen"....as she handed the note to radhika, and turned to leave after bending to take her blessings, radhika gave her note back n said, "it would be better if u just tuck the note into armaan's pocket perhaps, god bless u beta" saying that she left....ridhima took the point and doing as she had said drove to her house, hoping shashank was out for a jog, and would not notice her absence....
meanwile, the whole saas bahu love scene had not escaped samrat, who fumed now, and frowning said to himself...."i am sorry armaan, but um just going to have to do this....u forced me into it, i cant sacrifice my rule for ur mere silly love....."

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

~Part 14~

what in the name of heavens were u thinking ridzi, staying over with armaan the whole night....great!! now bear the consequences, have fun at mehendi tonight with an impending insomnia attack to hit u any second, and since no bride can ever sleep with her legs and arms full of wet mehendi, stay up yet another night, and then god save you from fainting in the mandap of ur own wedding the following evening....awsome....and lets say u are lucky to survive that too, with your eyes somehow kept open, what about the wedding night....wow....armaan will love me for being the first bride in the world who slept on her own suhaag raat before her husband even entered the bedroom...uufff shut up ridzi what are u thinking...."bhabhi are u ok???" atul quipped interrupting her thoughts....armaan, ridhima and atul were in the mall completeing some last minute shopping for the mehendi tonight, and the wedding tomorrow....he had come over for lunch to ask armaan about the previous evening and if things were right with ridhima, and just when armaan was ending his naration, leaving out the extremely personal parts of it, ridhima had come along.....atul had not wanted to barge between the two lovers, but armaan had insisted blackmailing him, "as it is rahul is not here yet, how can i do my wedding shopping without both my brothers"....seeing his still unconvinced look ridhima had added...."please atul, u have to come, atleast i should get to know one of my devars well before the wedding, after all you both will have to side up with me when armaan fights with me right???!!!!" resigning to their protests he had accompanied them....and now, in the last showroom they had to visit, while armaan was in the fitting room trying on a sherwani, atul had noticed the expressions on ridhima's face change with every passing second within the last 5mimutes...first she had displayed a range of sleepy expressions, then she gave some wierd irritated looks, then suddenly she looked like she was cursing herself and regetting something at the same time, and now the most recent one looked like she was trying not to blush....not for the life of him could he imagine what string of thoughts could result in that sequence of expressions....giving up on trying to guess anymore he had therefore asked her the reason directly....looking at atul waiting for her answer she gave him a blank look, in her head trying to figure out what she could say....and then she said "of course atul, dont worry about me...um...um just...just fine....nothing wrong, what could be wrong...hehe" she ended with a silly grin, knowing without doubt that he wasnt convinced with her reply in the least....then seeing armaan come up in a sherwaani he had gone to try she pouted and said pointing at him impulsively "its all his fault..." both armaan and atul looked at her then at each other and then back at her with a question mark printed all over their face for obvious reasons...."what did i do now" "what did he do now" came the same question, from both of them together....ridhima glared at armaan and then turning to atul with a pitiful look seeking help said in almost a cry baby voice "u know devar ji, he got me all sentimental last night and blackmailed me into hearing him talk god knows what worthless stories all night and so i have not been able to sleep a wink, and now with the mehendi tonight and the wedding tomorrow, god knows when i will sleep again....what if i faint in my own wedding when he's trying to put the garland in my neck????actually serves him right for not letting me sleep...." she finished off, and while atul burst out laughing, armaan just went from looking shocked to looking angrily at ridhima for the unfair and untruthful blame she had imposed on him..."ammy???bro why did u do that man" atul asked trying hard to control his giggles!!!ridhima, seeing atul wasnt noticing her winked at armaan mouthing the words "thats check honey!!!" armaan blurted "what non sense ridhima when did i tell you stories, we were just....." and he stopped in his tracks...then blushing slightly and scratching his head he looked down on the floor cursing ridhima for putting him in this vulnerable spot with atul, and then suddenly getting an idea he looked back up cheekily at ridhima, and with a mock innocent look towards atul and said "champ, c'mon man we are getting married tomorrow i thought i should be honest with her and tell in detail about all the girlfriends i have had in the past, the best kisses, the dates, the.....you know all that stuff...i thought it would be good for her to know all that beforehand wats a man to do if his lady doesnt appreciate his honesty???" atul looked at armaan and nodded slightly "well yeh i guess....but still if bhabhi was sleepy u should have let it be for then u know...." armaan , looking at ridhima who looked ready to strangle him hearing the words 'girlfriends' 'kisses' and 'honesty' replied, with a fake sorry look "aaawwww sweetie i did not realize i was tiring u out so bad....i thought u were listening to each word i said with great interest ....my sincere apologies darling..." saying this he pulled the by now fuming ridhima into a hug and whispered so that only she could hear "check and mate sweetheart!!" atul grinned shaking his head...he had figured out the game the moment it had started, since armaan had already narated the events of the evening to him, but he pretended innocence to watch the cute couple play about, and deep inside he felt trully happy for armaan to have found a girl like ridhima, they were 2 imperfect people perfect for each other he thought!!!"ahem ahem " hearing atul, armaan broke lose, and stood grinning at ridhima, who slightly embarrased said "and he still has not given me my birthday gift" hearing this atul looked at armaan armaan looked at ridhima and then looked down as if implying that now he was caught cause she was right....he had indeed not given her birthday gift, smiling slightly to himself he muttered under his breath "well not yet that is" and he looked back at her with a solemn look saying..." i thought my confession was gift enough, wasnt it" saying that he giggled seeing her pretended smile and said...."ok guys lets buck up now....and then glancing casually at his wrist watch he he almost yelled "omg champ....i think u will have to make a move if u r picking up rahul and muski from the airport they should be landing soon now...." hearing this atul too saw the time, hurriedly giving ridhima a hug and armaan a hi five said "see you later then....and ammy....bro get her some real gift man for heavens sake" winking at them both he left for the airport.....

as he disappeared armaan turned to see ridhima staring at him while tapping her foot on the ground...."what now" he asked "stop acting innocent um serious....what was all that girlfriend and kisses stuff about????and where is my gift????" "o c'mon ridzi....i just beat u at ur own wicked trick....admit it now!!!n what gift...we are not high school kids anymore....what do want...flowers???chocolates????teddy bears????ok lets go to a gift shop and you can pick what you want alright????" ridhima got really mad now "what????i took like ages to think of what to get you and u think i am silly to expect u to do the same...." saying that she pouted in anger and turned her back on armaan, who grinned behind her back then pulling a serious face said "uufff seriously u girls and ur tantrums....ok fine baba il get u something by evening lets just go home now...um getting tired..." saying this he started walking out of the mall...while ridhima more angry than ever before just followed him out in silence....as they finally reached the car ridhima kept silent in her anger, while armaan kept driving, humming 'mysterious girl' knowing it was irritating her....then breaking the silence when they finally reached her home, he asked "are u going to stay angry forever just because i did not get a gift for ur birthday?" "yup" came her curt reply "oh alright then.....look under ur seat...its there" ridhima eagerly looked under her seat to find a bunch of flowers, again an assortment and she realised she still had not told him her favorite, lifting those she saw a box which she pulled eagerly and ripping it open she saw chocolates and a stuffed teddy....."flowers chocolates and teddy...do u lik it?????asked armaan with an expectant face....though slightly disappointed she did not want armaan to feel bad since he had atleast got her a gift, so she smiled at him, the best she could and hugging him said "thanx honey i love them of course..." meanwile armaan was now having a really hard time controlling his laughter....aloud he said, in as controlled a voice as he could..."are u sure sweetheart...u do like those things right????i mean all girls do so i thought u would as well ridzi" he had known she would react this way....these gifts could have pleased any girl in the world....any girl except her and he knew that...which is why he had started with them....but ridhima said again "of course armaan i really like them thanx a ton...." and saying that she pulled out of the hug and made a move to step out of the car fearing armaan might read her face and realise she wasnt quite truthful....he turned her face around and said "then you wouldn't want this would u???saying so he pulled out a box from under his seat.....which she snatched out of his hands and said gleefully"is that another one for me????" armaan grinned at her innocent excitement and said "well if u insist on taking it go ahead" sticking her tongue out at him she got back to ripping the wrapper of the box...as she opened it, she found inside a basketball.....except that it wasnt just the usual plain orange color....seeing it closely, she realized it had something written on it in silver permanent marker.. she read aloud turning the ball all around to read the whole sentence " our...relation...is ...like....this....ball....no....matter....what....it....alw ays....bounces...back.....:)" for a few seconds she just reiterated the sentence she had read in her mind again...while thinking of what a deep reassuring message it held for their future in such simple words....then slowly she looked up at him her eyes getting moist again.... and before she could speak he said "please....dont say ur gonna cry....it cant be that bad a gift honey......" hearing him she started laughing with a couple of tears which had formed rolling down....while she, at a loss of words just hugged him again, this time completely meaning to.....armaan stroked her hair and whispered "do u like it???? i had to think alot after you dozed off last night of what to give u.....but couldnt think of anything to match your gift....but during the b'ball practice in the morning after i woke up, i was missing u...n our games...n then suddenly i had this idea....n i thought since i always keep messing up, seeing this ball when u r mad at me will remind u that um just a jerk...but i still lov u...n then u will melt n forgive me....wat say????" he asked her grinning....she looked back at him and smiled saying "oh so ur already warning me that u will be a and that i should consider this ball as your redemption ticket....well u know what....u win mr malik.....i love the gift....so i guess u will be forgiven!!!" as she spoke those words armaan just gazed at her ....he couldnt stop himself from giving her a soft kiss on her lips....and then before he could pull back, he found her gripping his hair softly and kissing him with deep intensity.....he kissed back, really happy that she had taken initiative and realizing that it was her way to reaffirm that she had indeed liked his gift for real this time....as they parted....she blushed and without looking at him, started running towards the gate, while he yelled "lov u honey cant wait to see u in the evning....!!!"

***********

Most of the guests had left by now....just family members remained....as they too started to depart their own ways, ridhima stood next to a window in her room thinking about the evening while looking at her mehendi....the sangeet had been awsome fun, ridhima and muskaan had seemed to gell well from the word go.....while ridhima felt like she had suddenly found herself a younger sister, muskaan told her she would now be her permanent partner in crime, while cribbing that the notorious boy gang never included her in their acts....pouting cutely she said "meri to sirf bhabhi hain" while sticking her tongue out at the three of them....rahul had shared a cute moment with ridhima, while completing his role of putting little mehendi on her hands and had said..."bhabhi, u cant imagine how delighted i am for armaan and u...he has always been such a rigid jerk when it comes to love, that i still cant believe he got this lucky....but mind u bhabhi....if he ever troubles you, i am the one u need to call, n then god save him from me!!!!" saying this he had put a small pack beside her saying "thats from atul, muskaan n me bhabhi...i hope u like it....atul meanwile had pulled her out for a dance, and while dancing asked her almost screaming over the loud music....did u like the birthday gift bhabhi????as ridhima looked at him with a questioning look, he replied...."he told me before u even came about it....." ridhima smiled at the bonding between these, thinking wishfully how lonely her own growing years had been...but now she thought, finaly i am getting a real family....where people love each other and care for each other...and then as her thoughts travelled to the man who had made this dream come true for her, she felt his hands over her eyes, while he said "ridzi quick make a wish " caught by suprise she begun "what in the " armaam interrupted "oh complete that favorite dialogue of urs later....just make a wish quick" silenced by him she just thought "i have nothing more to ask for...just for armaan.... make all his dreams come true....i love him!!!!" then as she opened her eyes armaan turned her face in the direction of a shooting star just falling down.....then he said....."wont ask u what u wished or ul fire back that old bollywood dialogue about not telling ur wishes" he said turning her around with cheeky grin....and then getting just a bit serious he added "but i just hope whatever u asked for comes true!!!!"...as she smiled he quipped...."oh yeh just remembered....show me your mehendi now, muskaan said u got my name in it???" shying a bit ridhima said "yeh, every bride does that...." not taking time to admire her mehendi armaan searched like a lost child for his name, then looking up at her completely puzzled he said "where is it????are u sure u got it there.... i dont see it....." ridhima grinned and said...."thats the point....i told her not to write it as a single word but to scatter the alphabets all over in the pattern," then pulling her hands away she continued "but thats ur challenge for tomorrow night" "WHAT????" armaan was not liking her tone....and she confirmed his fears by saying "yes mr.malik, you dont get to even kiss ur bride until u find ur name in that...." "NOOOOO WAY ridzi....look sweetheart....i dont intend marrying a new girl every year ok...this is the one n only suhaag raat i will have....N THIS IS WHAT U EXPECT TO KILL TIME WITH????"he said the last words in a childish frustration, trying hard to persuade ridhima first by pleaing then by anger...anything...so she would change her mind....but ridhima grinned ruthlessly shaking her head in a no...."that or nothing armaan....its final" as he gave her a puppy look, giving a last shot, she just could not help but poke his dimples and give him a quick peck...."ahem ahem" they both turned around not quite pleased at the interruption in their cute romantic moment only to find samrat standing there smiling at them both....he said"um sorry kids guess i chose a wrong moment....but i am so happy beta, i just had to come n tell u both the good news"...."whats that dad" asked armaan getting curious as his dad walked past them to turn on the TV to the breaking news....."well" said samrat hugging armaan "um proud of u son....we did it see????as he read the headlines flashing as a footer on the tv screen, armaans expression turned grave, with a nagging fear, he forced himself to glance towards ridhima and the horrified, shocked, numb look on her face confirmed the worst to him.....as he stepped towards her samrat intervened hugging armaan and said "today because of your forward thinking in chosing ridhima as your life partner, we have finally formally set up the biggest alliance in london....the gupta-malik-grewal collaboration, ridhima beta," he said sparing her a glance at last, "i would definitely have hugged you but i dont want to ruin the mehendi thats inauspicious....but i want you to know beta, how happy i am that u agreed to marry armaan in order to let this dream of his come true, it had matters so much to him" saying this he patted her on her head and left....just beforemaking a final exit from the room, he turned around with an evil grin and said to himself "mission break up AR accomplished...samrat u r a genius!!!!"

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

~ Part 15~

"Biggest Alliance in the history of LONDON-GMG: Gupta Malik Grewal collaboration announced, as planned, on the eve before the couple Armaan Ridhima tie knot....our congratulations to the families for this double celebration occassion" ridhima had re read that footer countless times standing before the TV in the past less than 2 minutes....somehow, though her head could comprehend what it meant, her heart was just not ready to comply....but for then she was so numb with shock, that there came no reaction.....as armaan moved towards her the moment samrat left, he suddenly saw ridhima swaying slightly and then holding on to her head she just almost collapsed, except that armaan caught her in time....getting really tense now, he yelled for maria while lifting her gently, taking care to not spoil her mehendi he put her on her bed, and yelled for maria again...who came rushing in at that very moment...."quick call a doctor...NOW....ridhima just fainted....HURRY UP MARIA....not a second to waste" while getting back to ridhima, armaan said, shaking her face with an extreme gentle touch "rid...ridhima plzzz honey....wake up....ridzi u gota react baby....OMG what did i do....ridhima if something happened to u i would just....OMG....no no relax armaan....nothing can happen to her....god will not do this to u...."even while saying these words he wondered if they were right because god it seemed to him then, had been ruthless to him in the last 10minutes...."ridhima plzzz sweetie....look...u have to wake up.....cause...cause um saying so...me armaan....ridhima plz honey ....o god....why did u...." before a now completely shaken up and tearful armaan could say another word, maria brought in a neighbour who was a doctor by profession...she had called the family doctor who was on the way, but not wanting to wait she had aloso called this man, Dr. Norris....ridhima was loved by all the people who served the gupta household, and maria could not hold her tears now seeing armaan in that condition and ridhima unconscious...why god, she thought, just when she was finally getting real hapiness in life...u have to make this right..." as the doctor gently asked armaan to move a bit and started his check up, maria patted a now unconsolable armaan.."she will be fine sir, dont u worry..." NO NO NO armaan wanted to yell...u dont know what just happened...oh god....y did i not tell her myself before....ridzi sweetheart, look u can kil me for this, an i wont make a sound, i deserve worse than dath....but plz honey....just get ok...let her be fine god.....and as he stood slumped against the wall with his eyes closed, praying each moment, the doctor said aloud "where is mr. gupta?" armaan moved forward to speak but maria said "he had just left for the celebration of the deal with mr.malik Mr. Norris, but u can talk to sir here, Mr. armaan Malik, her fiance...and taking armaan aside the doctor said "dont worry mr. malik....she is fine...just seems to be tired, i guess all this wedding excitement, she seems to have not slept too much, so i would say a good rest will make her just fine..other than that....her BP seems a bit low...now though it could be just with exhaustion, but i would not rule out her anxiety as a factor too...u know new brides and all that....just make sure she doesnt stress too much mentally, she should stay happy, and thats it...not much to wory about....have left some general prescription and the dosage, and the bills by her bedside....have a good one young fellow...and congratulations...a beautiful wife and a deal like that...u must be a happy man...take care...." armaan could bring himself to say nothing more than a hoarse good night to him while seeing him walk off...he rushed back to ridhima....told maria to leave and said "oh if the family doc comes tell him its ok...infact give him a call and say its all fine....i will take care, trust....trust me" he fumbled on the last 2 words....and could not think how he could ever say them again to ridhima in his life....had he lost that right already he wondered....but then deciding that for now he would just devote himself to taking care of her, till she woke up, he sat by her bedside, stroking her hair gently, and speaking softly..."honey the doc said u r fine....u will be fine...look sweetheart....just get ok quickly and wake up.....just say something to me once....and u can sleep again after that....i know u were joking about fainting on the wedding due to lack of sleep...but so soon honey????no no u cant do this to me...c'mon now wake up princess....i cant stay too long without hearing u talk....and as he was still speaking these words, ridhima slowly came back, and was about to get up but armaan held her back..."no sweetheart, just stay put...the doc said u have to rest tonight...and..." he could not bring himself to say the words 'not take stress' realizing he was the cause for that....ridhima looked at him a bit dizzy at first....but then everything came back in a crash....she pulled her hand out of his hands and said "i am fine...dont worry....u can leave....good night" armaan heard her distant voice, and saw how hard she was struggling within to not react at him and said holding her hand again "no ridzi how can i go back, when ur not fine...i am staying....even ur dad isnt home cause he is out for...."dam he thought stopping in his tracks while ridhima loked at him with an impassive look completing "the deal i guess???thats ok...i am not used to him sitting by my bed taking care of me anyways...maria is here u can go armaan...i can manage fine..." and seeing him about to protest again she said a little more rigidly " i want to be alone.....just leave for now....il see you at the wedding tomorrow....good night armaan."saying so she said a bit louder "maria....??" as maria came rushing in she started off "ridhima baby...r u alright..i got so worried...how did u just faint baby???i mean u are so good at staying up for nights at the end and now this.... for your own wedding....were u really that tired???" ridhima replied looking out of the window "yeh of course...just tired...u know the excitement of getting married and all...."emphasizing the word excitement in slight bitter sarcasm which did not escape armaan "dont worry am fine....wont u see armaan sir out...turning to him she said with the same impassive look "good night armaan...ummm and yeh ummmm i still havent congratulated u for the alliance have i...um sorry...i just kinda passed out at a wrong moment....congratulations dear....take care!!!" armaan looked at her as she said all that and he could not believe how detached she sounded...he had expected her to yell at him, get completely mad at him....be really upset but...definitely not this stoic....she just was not reacting it seemed......and now by calling maria she left him no option but to leave, he moved forward kissing her forehead and she puled back ever so slightly, so maria would not notice, but the reaction was equivalent to him of having her scream out the question 'how could u do this to me' ...he looked at her through tears....his eyes pleading her to let him stay and explain.....but he knew without her saying she would not let him......not now.....so he left with that....while maria who was still standing there, found it wierd that the two of them for the first time in almost a month, had parted without passing any teasers at each other....she gave it away to the fact that ridhima was not well and armaan was really worried....and let it go at that....she left the room saying "call me when u need me ms. gupta i will be around here....." to which ridhima gave an absent minded nod....

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

Armaan just could not stop crying all the way back.....miraculously he reached back home without any accidents....and leaving the car on the driveway with the keys still in th door he ran to his room and shutting the door beside him just slumped to the floor completely enervate....he still couldnt believe this was all happening and kept praying it was all a nightmare....but somewhere his head refuted and said , it wasnt, every bit was real....he just sat there for what seemed like ages just sobbing.....he couldnt think of what to do....he had feared this catastrophe all along, and thats why had decided to tell ridhima the entire truth himself....but he had never thought it would happen this way...and then cursing whatever had made it happen, he recalled samrat....and thought how could dad do this???but then again with whatever little reason he was still left with, he realized how he himself had always insisted to his father that the whole relation was for him just important in terms of the deal....how he wished, with absolute desperation, that he could change those words....he felt like he had thrown his own life away in deep dumps....the deal he had at one point thought of as his dream, now seemed like a curse....as he got up to move towards his bed his eyes fell on the newly done lilac mauve wall of his room....the wall he had got done to match ridhima's taste and to suprise her....on it hung the frame she had given him last evening.....looking at it he couldnt believe how much had happened since after his exam yesterday morning.....i just need ridhima by my side he thought....and thinking so he pulled off the frame, hugging it tight, cried again........

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

ridhima, now alone in her room burst out, controlling herself in past minutes which had seemed never ending, had taken its toll and she felt she could keep them in no longer.....she cried for a wile without thinking anything at all...when she finally got out with all the piled up emotions, she started thinking again....the deal.....she could not get it out of her head....all this time....it had just been the...THE DEAL?????omg she thought how could i be so naive....i should have realized it the day armaan first mentioned this marriage...the way he did it....telling his mum like that...why did i not see how unusual that was....why was i so engrossed in my own love for him that everything he did seemed like love to me...and all this time....it was for him....JUST THE BLOODY DEAL????ridzi, how could u even hope for something better have u not seen enough this politics in ur lifr to have fooled again....but by him...armaan...as she thought about him she cried in anger desperation and lost love.......the wedding she thought....oh yeh....the wedding....should i call it off????still thinking she walked to the window to let the cold night air hit her so she could clear her thoughts....as she reached the window her eyes fell on the small pack rahul had given her....though in complete grief, she could not withstand her curiosity, and opened it, it was a thick rolled up chart....as she let it unfold she gasped cause it was long enough to fall down to her feet, then looking at it she read the words on the top...."FOR THE NEW MEMBER OF OUR FAMILY.....WELCOME BHABHI!!!" her eyes welled up as she read the words....it was a collage of pictures of the four of them....atul rahul muskaan and....with a stab of pain she thought, armaan....right from when they were little kids to the time of muskaans wedding....there were comments in markers, pointing out from various pictures, describing what was happening.....it was a beautiful gift....a few hours ago ridhima would have thought that....but now....it seemed like a new reason to make her cry....n just as she was about to shove it away her eyes fell on a picture of atul n muskaan dancing at her wedding, but what caught her eye was the highlighted scene in the background...it was armaan n her talking...n she recalled how he had spilled the drink over her saree....it said, 'BLOOMING LOVE ;)' she couldnt see it anymore and walking and trying to roll it at the same time she tripped, well almost did, n looking down to see what it was, she saw the basketball armaan had given her in the afternoon....n she remembered its words....'OUR RELATION IS LIKE THIS BALL NO MATTER WHAT IT ALWAYS BOUNCES BACK' picking it up she thrashed it to the ground with all the force she could muster, taking out her bottled frustration on it, and then catching it just in time barely escaped being hit by it, AS IT BOUNCED BACK.......

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

~ Part 16~

As the early morning sun shined down upon her tear strained face, ridhima frowned a bit, and then almost at the same moment the strong fragrance of the mehendi on her hands, reached her....as all the memories from the night before came back in a flash, she sat up in her bed wide awake now....and looked at her hands....slowly, with tears in her eyes, she traced the letters of the name on her hand, thinking of the resolve she had made last night before finally dozing into a disturbed sleep.....initially her impulse had driven her to decide to break off the wedding in the morning itself...but then as she had sat down, just sorting out the million thoughts which were swamping her head, she had realized with resignation, that this had to be it....she reasoned, hard though it had been in that state of mind...that as the gupta heiress this fate had been decided the day she was born into the house...her marriage, whoever it was with, would never be the kind of fantasy she had wanted....it would be a deal....the only thing that could be changed is the names involved in the deal....and so she told herself, as she had for everything else in her life....to just take what comes to her....she knew it would be extremely hard, because she had to live with the truth that the man she had loved, and still did she admitted swearing aloud for the first time in her life....was the same who had cheated her....and was marrying her for a deal....a marriage cum deal would be painful in any case....but this was probably the worst way it could have happened she thought....but still....too much had been arranged and announced....she had compromised her happiness all life, what was the issue in doing it now....yes she reasoned....she would just do it the way it had been planned....and then smiling bitterly she remembered the wish she had made on the shooting star and said to herself "u wished for this to happen ridzi....for his dreams to come true....there u are then....true they have come indeed, are u not excited mrs. malik????" saying this in the most hateful tone possible she started laughing insane....ultimately ending in sobs.....then when there were no more tears left, she spoke up yet again in a hardened wife "so u married for the deal mr. malik....well have it your way....the deal will be all u ever get...for thats what u married...a deal...not a woman......"then softening a bit "dont worry honey, i will never again impose this one sided relation on you...never again will my love hinder ur path to success...."

***********

He saw her fake smile hidding the stone expressions beneath it well enough for the whole world....except him..he alone knew what it felt like to her at that moment, for he was undergoing exactly the same heartbreak, the same helplessness, the same impossible to bear torture....for different reasons of the same cause....the wedding...the day he had dreamt of as a dream come true with her, had been worst than a nightmare...and now as the group of the five young people sat together inside the malik mansion, going through the fun games for thw newly weds, all armaan could wish for was for all this to get over so they could go their room and he could finally talk to her....he alone knew how hard he had tried to see her and talk to her all day, but one statement from ridhima when she finally took his call had stopped his further efforts...he remembered with a stab of pain her cold voice "armaan...no groom should see his bride just before the wedding...its inauspicious, and though all that does not and never did matter to you, i would appreciate if you maintained the sancticity of the ceremonies...i will see you in the evening...have to go now..."saying so she had cut the call....and he had just stood rooted to the spot for minutes, until rahul had pulled him along firing a tirade of questions and comments none of which he heard....now as they finally let him go after he paid them, whatever few thousands he had in pocket, he entered his room, which was decorated the perfect way....he would have smiled, knowing muskaan had done it for them all by herself, but the scene in that beautiful surrounding ripped off whatever was left of his heart....slowly he walked towards her, as she, having already changed, and without realising he was there, was fixing a seperate bedding on the couch across from the decorated master bed....putting his hand out to hold her, n then not sure, pulling it back he just spoke "what r u doing ridhima????" ridhima turned around without much expression said "o ur here, sorry did not hear u come in....iv taken out ur night wear, its on the bed....n suzzane, thats her name right, she left the milk too....do u need something else??" he tried to read the look in her eyes but there seemed to be none...."yes there is something....i want to talk to you....please....ridhima you have to give me one chance to explain....and why r u putting this bedding here???" armaan asked, hoping to not get the obvious answer from her.....she sighed, then looked up again "armaan please....i want you to know, that its fine...i felt bad about the deal....very bad...but thats not your fault....its just me, i dont think logically n lucratively.....everybody in our status thinks professionally n so did u....u are smart at ur work n will make an outstanding professional, there was no reason to have given up a deal like this one.....theres nothing u have to explain.....n about the bedding, well we are both grown up matures....i would hate to see you wasting your time in worthless obligations of a relation which has a complete professional basis....you dont have to bother about pleasing me anymore, i can see the situation clearly now, and dont intend being an obstacle in ur growing success....and dont worry....we have had a legal public wedding, i know how to hold the grace of that relation in the world outside this room....but in here....i will give your space, and you leave me to mine....n well, i have to wake up early tomorrow morning to make breakfast for everyone, its a tradition, so ummm....good night!" n as she was going to sleep in the make shift bed, armaan pulled her back n said, "NO! u dont seperate our space into ur n mine, do u understand that????" "ur hurting me armaan, if you actually could anymore, just let me go" n she struggled to pull herself out of his grip, he let her lose, pulling her hand back she said..."you are right, there isnt your n mine here, its all yours...." and saying so, tears flowing down her eyes she moved out of the room before he could stop her and quietly made her way downstairs, glad that most lights were now out, n everybody had gone to bed....as she was sliding down the last hallway leading to the garden, an arm pulled her into a room and she turned around shocked to see...."mumma???"

***********

armaan just fell on the carpet like a bundle....sobbing uncontrollably, his head in his hands cursing himself for his very existence in her life, for ruining her dream...for taking away every smile from her face....unable to think for the life of him how he could ever win her back into his life, if he could......

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

"yes ridhima...i need to talk to you...i should have done this ages ago, but i will now, hoping that the damage my silence has caused is not irrepairable....will u sit and listen please?" not knowing if she really had another option, and also because for the first time she realized what she needed so badly right now was a mother, ridhima just hugged radhika, completely breaking down....while the latter just patted her head, in a comforting way and slowly made her sit on the bed, hushing down her incessant sobs gradually....and then at long last she spoke again "are you ready to hear some hard facts ridhima????i hope you are beta, because you alone can now save this house from doom....and i am really counting on u for that...." ridhima was listening, disturbed though she was, she had now for quite sometime had high regards for this neglected lady of the house, and she was sure she wanted to hear out what her mother in law had to say to her....and anyways she thought, nothing radhika was going to tell her could be worse than the truth she had learnt over 24hours ago...."yes mumma, um listening, and i am guessing whatever ur going to tell has something to do with reason um here right now crying before you, instead of my husbands bedroom..." that one sentence reaffirmed to radhika that she had indeed not overestimated this young girl when assuming she could solve the troubles of her home...so she started telling her the story, from a little less than 3 decades ago, going back to her grad days at oxford....she told ridhima everything, each truth that had been long burried but not lost within her for years now....as the night went on, ridzi could not stop herself from thinking, n here i was thinking i am the most tradegy stricken person in the whole wide world....more than ever now, she admired the lady, she had silently accepted as her mother just weeks ago.....as the story rolled towards the past one month, radhika continued giving her facts....and then at the end she said "ridhima beta, i will not deny that armaans initial idea about this wedding was indeed nothing but the deal, thats the way he had been groomed....but i have not missed a single chance of observing the rapid transformation in my son, since u entered his life....and believe me when i say, i am not saying this as his mother, but yours, he trully loves you....i was watching the news last evening when he got back home....and though he is not aware, i was the only one in the house other than him, and stood outside his room for several hours, hearing him break down....i had thought when the engagement was first announced of telling u all this, but seeing the change in him so obvious in just that one week preceeding the ring exchange, i admit having got selfish, n seeing that u were the only hope for armaan n this house now, i stayed quiet. but now i know what a big mistake that was...its just that i never thought, having got the deal in his hands, samrat would ever bother himself with ur married life anymore, n since i could see how happy u both were together i decided what was happening was for the good...please forgive me beta for this grose misjudgemennt, which seems to have ruined so much in just " "no mumma" said ridhima interrupting her the first time in several hours now..."things could have been ruined is what u should say, had u not shown me this reality....omg i cant believe i was shoving a life like that away from me without giving it a second try....and when armaan tried so hard to....."and her sentence trailed into a silent mournful gap....but within moments she had a new determined look about her....she looked at radhika and said "thanks mumma....i had always wished for a mother....a family....love....and finally when i found the man who gave me all that, i did not take a moment to drop my trust on him....it took just a headline for me to let him go....omg...what was i going to do....but not anymore mumma....ur rite....i will fix this thing....and i know exactly what to do.....i should get going now mumma...there's alot to do and very little time" saying this she hugged radhika a last time and went quietly to her room, only to see armaan cuddled up on the floor next to the couch....clinging onto the frame she had gifted him....she hated herself in that one moment for having done this to him....but then remembering her resolve, she again looked determined, smiled a tight smile....and as she went to move him, with tremendous effort finally lifting him to the couch, she looked at him for a while....then softly she kissed him on his forehead, and said "i wont let you down armaan...i promise...never again..."

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

~ Part 17~

As she stood there looking at him, armaan, with all the movement that had been caused, finally woke up, and suprised to see her just standing over him, stared into her emerald eyes, willing her to say that she had forgiven him, whatever she would expect in return he would do, but just this once.....ridhima meanwile could not hold his gaze too long, for she felt equally guilty now....knowing the whole truth....she could see how armaan had just been used by his father for his benefits, and knowing how high armaan held his father in his life she just couldnt see how he would face the truth....but she decided, i am going to be with him now...i wont let the news break him, i will be his strength, as he has been mine all this time....as she made a move to go, he held her wrist, and his touch made her weak, made her wish to turn around and tell him that she knew he needed her, and that she was indeed with him....but not the way he wanted right now....no she told herself....ridzi be firm, its just a little more wait till you fix the issues in this house, and then its just u and him forever.....and hard as it was, she knew if she just turned around and told him he was forgiven she would never be able to implement the plan she had in mind....so she just turned around with the same expressionless face and removed her wrist from his grip.....it killed her to see the hurt in his eyes when she did that, and she knew what it felt like to him then....but the toll it was taking on her to do this was much greater, and so she just could not stop herself from saying in a much softer tone "armaan, i will be preparing the breakfast shortly....do get ready and be there on time...." and saying that she left to freshen up....armaan meanwile just sighed closing his eyes ....he remembered distinctly that he had not slept on the couch so she must have helped him onto it....and the tone she had just spoken in????it was not the one from last night...it was not forgiving but it wasnt impassive and detached....he could see that he still mattered to her, and that gave him atleast a moment of relief....but then he thought...what should i do to win her back....i just have to....and while he was making and cancelling all possible plans he could think of to earn back her trust, he suddenly felt the air around him smell really pleasant...opening his eyes impulsively he saw her drying her freshly washed her hair....oh its her he thought...fresh out of a bath....no wonder i felt so good....wow so thats how my room gona smell every morning now, he almost smiled giving her a lost look without realizing until she noticed him looking at her like that, and getting conscious....just cleared her throat aloud to snap him out of it saying "is something wrong????" he just looked down feeling guilty again....oh man!he just could not rid himself of the guilt...he wanted to tell her how mesmerizing she looked, but he just was not sure of what he could or couldnt say to her anymore.....the only thing he knew for sure was that he did not want her to leave him alone in that room again like last night....and if that meant that he should not speak around her he wouldnt...atleast she would be in the same room before his eyes he consoled himself....and looking back at her he said "nothing....can i use the bathroom if you dont need it anymore???" she nodded, and as he moved out of the couch catching his bathrobe and going in to the bathroom, she looked at herself in the mirror and said with a small smile "thanks honey " acknowledging his unspoken compliment now that he was not there...in the name of heavens, she thought, it was going to be so hard to be like this with him, when he just submitted to all her ways in his guilt....buck up girl ...its for his and the family's ultimate good.....and picking up her cell she went towards th balcony, to ensure he would not be able to even accidentally overhear her call....as she put the phone down, a small but satisfied smile was playing on her lips, and with that she moved out of the room to go on and prepare the breakfast....

***********

"dude i can bet last night must have been heavenly, but did it kill your hunger in the process???" armaan looked up from his almost untouched plate to see atul grinning at him in a naughty way...armaan gave him a solemn look "ummmm no, its not that...just....havent gone for practice today...dont seem to have built the apetite for an early breakfast" he replied hoping desperately that atul wont see through his lie.....but to not provoke more questions he just started eating the kheer in his bowl....and couldnt believe how yummy it was...he looked up at ridhima, and as he caught her looking at him, gave a small smile wanting her to know that he thought the kheer was awsome...ridhima just gave a slight nod in response and went back to the kitchen to fetch more pooris....rahul meanwile licking his fingers said "wow bhabhi yummy food! " and then winking at armaan "u lucky dog!!!bhabhi makes such awsome food....guess its time u fired all the cooks in here...." hearing this armaan almost choked, remembering the proposal he had offered ridhima for the same job a couple of nights ago....as he coughed a bit more slight tears formed in his eyes from the choking and ridhima came rushing out of the kitchen to give him a glass of water, while slightly massaging his back and said in a concerned voice "armaaan! why do u have to gobble down food... its not running away from the table...." and then suddenly stopped, remembering what she had said to him about hogging food...as they looked at each other, muskaan did not miss her chance to tease "oooohhhhh love is in the air....watsay rahul????" armaan looked at her with a 'dont act smart with me look' and said "of course kid.....considering u just got back from a honeymoon...which um sure must have been sizzzzzling, all u will feel is LOOOVVVVEEE in the air right rahul????" while rahul and armaan hi fived, hearing this muskaan blushed hard and looked towards ridhima for support "bhabhi see???bhai and rahul always team up like this against me..." ridhima smiled at the display of sibling love and deep friendship and said "dont bother about them muskaan...they are helpless....lawyers u see....they just hate to lose an argument...." as she said this muskaan hugged her...and armaan looked up at her...he loved the way she had already become a part of the family like she had been there forever....with quiet determination he thought to himself...u r right honey, armaan malik hates to lose...in fact he does not lose....i will win u back sweetheart, no matter what that takes....and smiling a bit more than he had in the past almost 36 hours, he started enjoying the food she had cooked...

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

"thank you so much Mr. Lester..i appreciate the fact that you could do me this favor at such a short notice....i hope papa, i mean my dad, and armaans dad, and armaan himself dont know about this yet????i want to give them all a suprise you know...armaan had mentioned doing something like it and i thought it would be a perfect after wedding gift...." as she smiled at the senior lawyer from her fathers firm, who was now a part of the new allaince, he replied "of course gupta...um sorry mrs malik...no problem at all...and it is indeed going to be an awsome suprise when you and armaan sir release the papers at the reception tonight...i should take your leave now...there is alot of pending paper work i have to complete..." saying so they shook hands, and he left...while ridhima smiled deeply....with a confident look on her face....

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

she still had not decided exactly how she would be saying this to armaan, but she left it for the moment itself...and getting into a faster pace walked towards their bedroom, knowing armaan was in there getting ready for the reception....as she opened the door she was suprised to find it dark inside and as she felt for the light switch on the wall she heard the famous C21 number play from the music system lying in the far end of the room....

You are stuck in my heart
Like counting a million stars
For that many reasons you are

Can't you tell
you've been all over me like a spell - I know
I never wanna let you go

Can't you see
you've been changing the world around me - I know
I never wanna let you go

If you hold me close enough
I can whisper you the words
If the distance is too far
I can't do nothing, cuz

You are stuck in my heart
and we can go anywhere
whatever the reason you are
so stuck in my heart
like counting a million stars
for that many reasons you are
so stuck in my heart......

as the song faded dim lights came on and ridhima saw room full of flowers...all kind of flowers again and she thought omg i just have to tell him i like daisies best...or he will keep getting all kinds of flowers everytime...and armaan noticed a small smile touched her lips as she looked around, trying to find the master planner of this set up....so he crept from behind her and closing her eyes said...."come i have to show you something please dont say no...." as she moved without much repulsion holding on to his guiding hand she thought...great...this fits perfectly into my plan....love u armaan...even without realizing u are always the solution to all my problems....now i know exactly what to do....and just then she felt his hand move away from her eyes and he said..."u can see now" and she opened her eyes she found herself in a dark room not quite dark and as she looked around her she saw many many many shimmering flourescent stars shining all over the ceiling and the walls and she read the words in the centre.." I PROMISE AS MANY TIMES AS THE NUMBER OF THESE STARS TO NEVER EVER BE A JERK AGAIN....PLEASE FORGIVE ME :( "she turned around to face him as he switched on the lights. trying hard to hide the feelings which were overflowing in her heart now, by his gesture....she said "armaaaan..." but he silenced her putting a finger on her lips and said "please ridhima.....i know u are mad at me...and u have all the reason in the world to be...but please give me just one chance to atleast tell u my side of the story...." seeing that she had not interrupted or moved away he resumed with a little more confidence "i will not deny that when dad had first proposed this marriage the deal was all i had thought of....but all that has changed now ridhima....u have changed me, my life, my dreams....infact i shouldnt say u have changed me...u have introduced me for the first time in my life to the real me....and i dont care about any deals or alliances...i would give up the world just to have you by my side....i mean every word of it...please trust me...." she looked at him for several passing moments....all she wanted right then was to be kissed by him, and be in his arms forever...but she sparked back to reality as she felt him take hold of her face from her chin, and very reluctantly she moved back....he looked at her, hurt again, and not sure of how much longer she could maintain this distance she said "trust you????" he looked at her and saw that she was not taunting him so he said "yes....i will prove my love whatever way you want" so she said, chosing her words carefully but not looking at him "are you sure????whatever way i want????without asking me for reasons????" without thinking even for a second, considering she was ready to give him a chance he said in an excited voice "yes honey...whatever u want....just tell me what u want me to do"...ridhima thrust a file in his hands and said "sign these then" as he took the file from her she willed him with her eyes to see it...and so he opened it not knowing what to expect....and his eyes widened in complete shock as he finished reading the document...and looking back at her in helplessness he pleaded "ridhima please how can i do this????and how could u even sign these papers????how can u expect me to put all my shares in the alliance .....and put your own too.....in the name of that woman..." "shes your mother " ridhima retorted silently "well only to say...look sweetie i will put everything in your name , muskaans name, rahuls name, anybody else....but not her....how can i????see honey u have not been here too long and u dont know the people of this house ...." interrupting him again she said "for once armaan u r wrong...i think i know them much better than u....anyways i dont want to argue about this....if you want me to forgive you and accept our relation, this is the only way...." she said with finality in her tone...armaan gave a last helpless shot "ridhima u dont know what she did to dad....omg dad....how can i do this ridhima...what will dad think....look u dont know everything here...and i am ready to explain...this is not what u want me to do, trust me...." interrupting him the last time she said "no armaan i cant....trust cant be single sided....u cant expect me to trust you when you are not ready to trust me...if i am asking you to sign these papers, despite knowing ur views about mumma....you should realize i have my reasons...which u cannot ask for right now....but if you trust me then sign these papers....and only then can u expect me to ever trust you back again...." armaan realized that there was no way ridhima would turn back on her words....he closed his eyes thinking with a million thoughts zooming in his head while ridhima spoke again "its ok you have an hour until we leave for the reception to think about it....if you decide to trust me, trust us, let me have the signed papers by then..." as she was walking out she heard him say "wait...." and walking up to face her, "i dont know why u r doing this....and i know how gravely i will hurt dad by signing these papers....but i trust u and i trust us...."saying this he signed the papers, and handing them over to her he said "i really hope u know what u r doing darling...." and with that he walked out of the room....she smiled sadly behind his back "thank you so much armaan...i know how hard this was for you.....mumma was right....you do love me in the earnest or you would not sign these papers even if god asked you to....not only have u helped me in implementing my plan, but u have also proved to me that my trust on u is not baseless....u were right....our relation will always bounce back....lov u armaan!"

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

~ Part 18~

"Let me get that for you" said ridz as she saw armaan pick up the black tie she had chosen for him to wear with an elegant red formal shirt inside a black suit...red and black together was what she had wanted him to wear....same as the combination of her saree....now as she tied the knot of his tie, she could feel his gaze on her, his silence emaphasizing the on going battle in his head....asking her the unspoken doubts...what was on her mind and why could she not share it with him in plain words.....finishing the knot she looked up into his hazel eyes, with a calm look, squeezing his hand she said..."armaan.....i know i did not put you through a pleasant test in there....n i know what making that choice meant to u....but now i want u to know....that i am doing this for the good of your family...beg your pardon, i mean our family....alot will be happening tonight....and you are not likely to receive it too well....but please remember...i am with you.....today and forever"....saying this she stood on tip toes, and gave him a quick yet passionate kiss on his lips....as if reassuring him of how seriously she meant the words she had just said....and hugging him she said " i love u armaan...not because u signed those papers....my love for u doesnt need reasons and conditions....but i also feel the same unconditional love towards the family u have given me, since i never had one for real all these years....and what um doing is very important for the people u and i both love....you will get all your answers before the night is over, but until then thank you so much for trusting me....your love and trust is the essence of my existence....and somehow, without them, the last couple of days had been meaningless days of my life..." as she felt armaan lightly pat her back, and not return her hug wholeheartedly, she felt a bit disappointed, but this was going to happen she had known beforehand....she broke out of the hug, to leave when he held on to her wrist....suprised she turned around and saw him smile at her and he said offering her his arm "wont u let your husband escort you for the evening mrs. ridhima armaan malik???"as she happily locked her arm into his he pulled her slightly close, and lifting her hand he kissed it deeply...and said...."u look breathtaking honey....um bowled over...."and blushing, she looked at him to see him wink at her and then in a more serious tone he said " i trust you completely sweetheart....and you have my consent and support in everything that you do for my family, since now it is indeed as much yours as mine....." and then smiling again signalling with his hand he said "shall we????" feeling confident and peaceful now, to have heard those words from him, she walked with him matching his step down the spiral stairs, into the huge hall where the party had been organised....

**********

Samrat's eyes widened in horror, shock, and all other synonymous emotions as he read the document in the file which had just been handed to him....looking up he searched for the waiter who had given it to him, but as expected the guy had disappeared into thin air...it was an impossible search in such a huge gathering, with atleast a 100 waiters in the same uniform....looking at the document again to make sure it was not a figment of his imagination, he frowned deeply now and looking around to make sure nobody would notice a short lapse of his absence he went towards the room he had not bothered to even glance at in years now....he however did not escape the pair of eyes which had been on him for the past one hour, waiting for him to make exactly this move....slowly ridhima made her way towards armaan, who was at that point the victim of several witty teasers from his law school gang who stood surrounding him close to the bar....as he saw ridhima approach them, he spoke over their voices...."there she is....how about asking her in person what she plans to do with me during our honeymoon....darling, come along fast i hate being victimized by these ruthless guys without my partner in crime...." ridhima approached them and smiled warmly at all of them, and then stood trying hard to conceal her impatience as armaan introduced her to the whole lot of them....sensing something was not right he hastened the introductions and then said...."n now guys, as much as i hate to interrupt this intriguing discussion, u have to excuse ridhima and me....oh man! the price u pay for marrying a beautiful woman.....cant be an irresponsible bachelor like u lot anymore"....as they all laughed giving the couple way to move, armaan swiftly steered two of them into a slightly less crowded corner and getting serious immediately asked "what happened ridhima?" she just stared at him for a few seconds wondering how he could read her like an open book, and then not wanting to waste anymore time she said with urgency in her voice, "armaan can you come with me????there is something you must see....i have talked to muskaan she will handle the guests if they miss either of us...." and without another word she started walking with armaan following her close behind, confused but realising it wasnt the moment to ask her the reason for this sudden action....but somewhere inside he realized he was close to getting answers to all his doubts ....as they reached closed to radhika's room, both of them could hear the familiar male voice from inside the room, not sounding happy at all...as armaan, now too curious, was about to question her, ridhima silenced him by gripping his hand tight....and then with her eyes signalled him to see and hear the conversation inside in silence.....and armaan just complied as he had to all her other demands in the last two hours....and they both heard samrat say in a voice louder than usual " i thought the past had taught u not to mess around with my work, n just mind your own business....but no....just as nosy as your late father arent you????" "so you think questioning your own employees about suddenly missing millions from the company is being nosy????" "listen woman, it would be a great idea to not drag the past in....the old man was too clever and interfering, i could not have grown in my career had he lived any longer than he did....just tell me how you talked armaan into doing this????he can never do this without someone poisoning him about me, n who other than you would ever do that????specially noticing, how lucrative that has proved for u as per the conditions in these papers...." while samrat seemed to be losing his temper with each passing dialogue, radhika did not react, speaking in a calm tone again she said "you pretty well know i dont care about properties and millions samrat....or i would have never signed the power of attorney in the name of the man responsible for my father's death....and as far as poisoning armaan's brain is concerned, u seem to have done it so well over the years that he even denies me the right of being his mother.....if i had to poison him, i would have told him the real truth long ago, but just for his and muskaans happiness i let them live with the manipulated truth u sold him half a decade ago...." samrat now livid in anger said " i did not have to kill your father he was an emotinal fool with a weak heart and " interrupting him radhika reminded him slightly perturbed by the painful memories again, "any human father would get a weak heart knowing his daughter had married a man, whose only interest was her property....the property he would go to any extent for.....but you wouldnt know that would you samrat....you gambled with the happiness of your own son for some mere business profits....the same son who worships you before his god....i fear the moment when he would learn of your real designs....he devoted himself and his life to you, and you played that dirty politics the night before his wedding????when you had the deal on why did you even bother with his personal life i dont understand...." giving a soft evil laughter samrat scorned "oh so u guessed the news headlines was my gimmick...great radhika finally living in the same house as me for so many years has rubbed off some of my brains onto you as well...but not enough i can see or you would understand how essential it was for me to drive that scapegoat gupta girl out of armaan's life....he is my trump card in this deal...i rule over the other two partners because of him, and if i had let her silly love control him, i would have lost the reign to that loser lover of yours, shashank gupta....i was not about to lose that hand for the blossoming of a fantasy love story....." hearing these words armaan who had initially been numb with shock was now outraged, and ridhima had to hold onto his hand tight to keep him from giving away their presence..."but now u " said samrat getting furious again " have the audacity to drive armaan against me and get him to sign these papers????and you think i will let u win this game....never radhika....if i could drive your father to an ultimate death, u r a much easier target...." radhika retorted still calm, "do what you want to samrat....i am living a dead life anyways....i still regret the day i fell in love with a man, who is not even fit to be called human, leave alone..."samrat raised his hand to strike her across her face before she could complete her sentence, but was shocked as something held his hand back....as he slowly turned around, he saw armaan, whose face was visibly livid with anger now, but keeping a control on his voice he spoke in a warning voice, which implied he meant business "no you dont do that.....not anymore...." roughly throwing his hand back, armaan gently held radhika's hand and said...."c'mon mother, ridhima and i need your blessings as we cut our wedding cake outside...its almost time the guests would be waiting....." radhika just gazed at him as he said the word mother, with her eyes getting moist, and as he moved towards the door still holding onto radhika's hand samrat spoke in a shocked voice "armaan beta..." armaan looked at him with daggers in his eyes and said "mr. samrat malik...i am sure u dont want to create a scene with so much press outside...i know ur dying to talk to me right now....believe me i am just as eager for there is quite a few things i really want to clear out here....but lets postpone the discussion to the moment when it can stay within the family...." saying so he moved out with his mother, while ridhima followed the two of them with a look you have when you win only to realize how much you lost in the process....

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

part 18 frends...i know this one is short...but it is perhaps so far the most crucial part to the story i built over the week...not the best in terms of a fun read....but it settles down most questions i guess....u know um not sleepy so i might just update once more but no promise...till then enjoy part 18....



Edited by spln - 10 May 2008 at 12:54am

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Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:35am | IP Logged
~ Part 19~

Ridhima could see the toll this raw truth had taken on Armaan...for those few minutes inside mumma's room, she mused, it was just the instantaneous uncontrollable anger outburst he had displayed, but now she could see that he was undergoing much worse than she had ever imagined...he was not inebriated, but the liqour he had consumed definitely exceeded the usual social amount, and so from the moment they stepped next to the cake she had entwined her fingers into his, to hold his hand in a tight but gentle grip, hoping it was serving at least as a bare minimum support in those hours of pretensen before the guests. remorsefully she thought how samrat's cheap stakes had completely devastated the two most beautiful days of their married life, but then she told herself how much worse it could have been had she not been brought to light by mumma....atleast now armaan and she were facing this together, n that by itself gave her reason to give a small smile....it had been evident to her before the start of this plan, how negetively armaan would be affected by it all....but the real situation indeed supremely surpassed all her expectations. while to the whole gathering he had announced with a calculated regret in his voice how his father had suddenly felt dizzy with the exhaustion of the extended wedding events and the deal (he had added the last word with a bitter sarcasm that had been missed by everyone except those closest to him), and so he had said that his mother, mrs radhika malik (ridhima realized instantaneously how he had avoided speaking her full name, so as to keep samrat's name out of this ceremony) would bless ridhima and him at this threshold of their new life together. while the press had witnessed a field day being introduced formally to the senior lady of the house for the first time in years, rahul, atul and especially muskaan had been completely dumbstruck at least for a few moments, until they recovered deciding there was ample time to know what was going on after the guests had left....but muskaan still could not help looking at her brother with an affected look implying what in the whole wide world did he think he was doing, while congratulating ridhima n him, and seeing the evident unpleasant look exchange between the siblings, rahul had pulled muskaan gently away while looking back to give armaan reassurance that he would handle her, until the right moment....armaan had simply nodded, and ridhima had been deeply touched by the bond these four shared, at how even when in complete dicord with the other, they trusted each other enough to await the appropriate time for explaination.

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

As the last of the remaining guests left, it was an hour past midnight, which is when armaan looked at everyone and asked them to come to his room, while turning to the least reactive person in the family he said "atul, could you ask....dad...." he said that word with great effort and hesitation, "to join us in an hour???" hearing this muskaan could contain herself no longer held atul's hand as she said "BHAI???? what do you think you're doing....its extremely disrespectful to call dad to your room, and you're telling atul to do that too???why cant you go yourself...and you said dad was not feeling well and why after an hour for dad, why not ..." armaan interrupted "muskaan let atul go and do what i said....and you come up to my room, answers is exactly what i am going to give you...." and muskaan would have certainly not been quietened by his statement, but the fact that he called her by her by her full name, n not the usual 'kid' she was accustomed to hearing him address her with kept her silent....something was really serious she thought, and as she turned to give radhika a dirty look, she saw ridhima holding her hand to comfort her...this enraged muskaan completely n now she said turning towards he brother, in a voice full of scorn n hurt "oh i see....so the new member in the house has already started affecting the relaions here..." turning to ridhima she said " n you decided so soon to behave like the typical scheming daughter in law??? seperating my brother and my dad, of course in perfect connivance with this woman here and " "MUSKAAAAN" armaan yelled then lowering his pitch again "listen muskaan, i told u come into my room and we will discuss this, without knowing the truth you dont want to say or do things you will regret all your life...." hearing this statement rahul knew at once, that he had to control muskaan.....whatever had made armaan yell at his younger sister, and then utter these words, must be, rahul reasoned knowing his best friend inside out, extremely grave and so he said in a low voice " honey, ammy is right...we all know him well....you have to allow him the chance to explain...you have to trust him that much...." looking towards ridhima rahul added "i apologize on behalf of muskaan, bhabhi, i hope you will not be offended by what she said in this disturbed state of mind" ridhima gave rahul a reassuring look, feeling more guilty than ever in her life to have indirectly been the cause of that harsh exchange between armaan and muskaan....she was so thankful to rahul for this intervention and realized how lucky muskaan was to have him in her life....
as atul moved to go inform samrat, the rest of them moved to armaan's room. armaan asked ridhima to start with her part...he would have asked his mother, except he did not want her to undergo the strain of reiterating the most miserable truths of her life...so ridhima told them the details of radhika and samrat's relation in the same wods as radhika had told her....then when she was going to begin, armaan and her part in the story from about a month ago, armaan took over narrating everything right upto that evening's scene in radhika's room, because he realised there were things she did not even know that well....like how prudently armaan had been prompted for this wedding for the deal, under the alubi of his happiness..."well u know dad actually managed in his plans to give the greatest happiness of my life," he said looking towards ridhima " but he almost took it away from me as well", he said further with a suddden miserable look, remembering the way they had spent their wedding night....at this point muskaan said "bhai....i still dont see why i should believe all that....i mean....how can u expect me to chose between dad and u on the basis of that story alone....i dont believe he could ever do that....moreover you dont even sound like thats you speaking, its like you're speaking soembody else's words " muskaan just did not say the name ridhima but her meaning was clear....and before anybody could speak up samrat walked in saying "thanks muskaan beta....i am glad atleast one of my two kids still has faith in me....armaan um just shattered by ur words today beta all those years of grooming just for this new found one month old girl...." armaan losing any restraint he had maintained all this time yelled at samrat moving towards him "STOP IT....HOW LOW WILL YOU STOOP????WAS IT NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU TO HAVE SEPEARTED A MOTHER FROM HER KIDS, AND THEN PUT YOUR BEST EFFORT INTO RUINING MY LIFE WITH RIDHIMA EVEN BEFORE IT HAD STARTED, THAT U R NOW CREATING A DRIFT BETWEEN MUSKAAN AND ME???" muskaan interrupted "he is not creating a drift bhai, u are seeing everything in an influence and bias now..." armaan looked towards muskaan the hurt evident in his eyes and he said in a low voice trying hard to keep away the tears which were threatening to come any moment after hearing those words from the sister he adored so much..."muskaan...you will not understand the pain since you and rahul were married in a normal happy way....u did not have to face the first night of your married life alone in your room crying all night thinking you were gulity for a mistake, when ur love felt completely cheated by you in another room...and all that time u were both just puppets in a big pre planned scheme" he said the last words looking up towards samrat with extreme anger in his eyes he continued " the two most beautiful days of my life .....and you turned them in to living hell.....the days that should have been lifelong cherished memories are like nightmares i never want to think of again in my life....all because of dirty gimmicks....that bloody news headline...and...." hearing these last words atul looked up....armaan just could not speak anymore....remembering what he and ridhima had gone through the 2 previous nights he just slumped on his bed, as ridhima rushed to his side to offer her support....she couldnt control her streaming tears seeing a man like armaan so weak and helpless, facing the fact that the biggest truth of his life had actually been an illusion...his idol, his dad had played him like a card in a poker game....muskaan somehow was so torn between two of the four men in her life that she just burst out crying and spoke "why are you doing this bhabhi....he loves u so much and so did we....bhai cant see the truth anymore and he is blaming dad...what did u do to him....to an extent that he just made up all those lies....and...."interrupting her " No muskaan....ammy is not lying...." everyone looked up in complete shock to hear the most dormant memeber of the discussion so far...as atul resumed "yeh you heard me right....he is not lying...every word he spoke is true...."while everybody looked at him expecting him to elaborate....the four people who knew the truth-armaan ridhima radhika and samrat- wondered how he knew it too. seeing the expectant looks atul continued "i did see u leave the bedroom last night bhabhi since i had gone to the kitchen to get myself a glass of water...i thought i saw u crying, but dismissing the thoughts as impossible, assuming u must be downstairs for something, i just left the scene quietly, not wanting you to get conscious or uncomfortable....but now i know u were indeed crying and i did not imagine things...." and looking towards samrat he continued"but that is not the only reason i know ammy is not lying....i wonder how i manage being at all the wrong spots at all the right times....of course had it been rahul or armaan instead of me it would have been way better since they would have understood things for what they were the same instant, while i only just figured out what things had meant now...."as he looked around him he could see everyone was glued to each word he spoke, and waiting for him to clear of the ambiguity of the statements he had just uttered....he sighed and then continued "day before yesterday night, after i reached the grewal mansion much later after the mehendi had been over, to make plans for the wedding with rahul and muskaan, i was crossing chachu's room when i heard his voice a little louder than usual and quite disturbed...shashank uncle was also in the room...." and atul started narating what he had seen and heard...
~flashback~
"but how could samrat have just released the news without even mentioning a word of it to us shanshank???we are equal collaborators here are we not????" shashank got up furious himself..."well on paper yes....but you know he does have an edge, since he is the link between us...." anshuman grewal interrupted, protesting "but i dont understand the point of this sudden news release when we had planned a whole bash for it in a week from now...after talking to our kids about it....afterall they are the ones to control it very soon now....they have a right to know this stuff before the whole world does, no?????" shashank said "well forget the kids....how about us????we are equals atleast we have the right to know....one obvious reason for this sudden press release is to establish before the whole world and before us, that the lead in this allainace is always his...but if i know him well that could not be his soul motive, for doing that he must have had several other ways....and why would he overlook that all plans had been in place for the official announcement of this deal just to show us we are a step behind....no no...that could be a minor motive....but there is something else to it....he seems to have done this in real haste....as if it was essential that he did it before the wedding....its as if he wanted to completely shock someone with this news....but who could it be.....radhika would not be affected...armaan already knows....rahul and muskaan have a fair idea of whats coming....and ridhima is just never interested in anything with business and work......i wonder who the target was....but the way he had seemed delighted when he was with us celebrating an hour ago, i fear to say whatever it was he was aiming for,..he has achieved.....lets just hope it will not be bad news for u and me..."
~flashback ends~

and looking back at them atul finished saying "and so i realized there was some issue there....but i never even bother with these business talks when its ammy and rahul talking, getting involved with the elders was not even a remote possibility....so putting it off as another one of those never ending complications involved in being related to big empires, i just put it off my head and moved to carry on with the plans for the remaining part of the night....i have always been so out of these matters, and so disinterested that it did not even occur to me to mention it to rahul or ammy....or ...perhaps all that has happened since the mehendi night could have been well avoided...but u see...." ha said with a sad sarcasm, "botany guys are never smart with this stuff...." looking at armaan with sadness etched over his face atul said walking towards him , sat next to him on the bed and putting a hand on his shoulder "i am sorry bro....i really could have saved you all this....but i just....u know me.....wish it had been rahul or u who overheard not me...." and saying so he pulled armaan into an embrace, while armaan just submitted to his emotions not trying to check them anymore....as ridhima looked helplessly at them she saw rahul look just as helplessly at muskaan who seemed to have been totally struck by the shock of it all....and without much sensation just slumped onto the rug, only to be caught by rahul in time....she said in a daze " bhai was....telling the truth....so ....dad...."and she couldnt speak anymore....just looked at the man at whose hands she had been betrayed so completely, and then at the man who had tried explaining and she had doubted him...him????her bhai.....she cried incessantly....ridhima realizing that atul was handling armaan...moved towards muskaan and was going to hold her hand when she pulled it away, and looking into ridhima's shocked eyes, with tears in her own she spoke "bhabhi...please dont....i am not worth any of your concern....i just....how could he....i....no we....called him dad.....and....."muskaan couldnt speak anymore....and ridhima and rahul just pulled her into a hug together.....meanwile samrat who had been shocked by the turn of events was thinking fast of a new plan, when armaan pulled hastily out of atul's hug and standing up spoke to him in the coldest professional voice possible in his current state of mind " you mr. samrat malik will leave this house right now, that is, if you want me to take no legal action against you...you of course know i have no dearth of reasons i could sue you for....but just to save the grace of the bloodline i unfortunately share with you, i give you this one chance to save yourself that humiliation....if you dont take me seriously i will overlook all of that and take action..." as everybody in the room now stared at the two malik men waiting for samrat's response none of them could keep their blood from boiling at hearing his scornful tone as he spoke " not so soon my son....samrat malik odes not play to lose at the hands of novices like yourself....i am not the one to leave you are....you and all these so called loved ones of yours....just leave my house now....i cut u off a single penny from my property....go ahead and sue me, lets see how long u survive without a penny, and the great samrat malik's backing..." before anybody could speak up they heard radhika's voice through her tears, straining hard to sound calm "did i hear you say your property samrat????" and as she stood up to face the man she should have countered long ago she resumed now in a real calm voice "i think i need to remind you of a certain clause you forgot from the document i signed in your name years ago...."

***********

~Part 20~

Every eye in the room now turned towards radhika n she said "u dont remember it do you samrat???" asked radhika and then samrat realized with panic what she was getting to...seeing his expression she said "armaan and muskaan jointly own the property....you were only the guardian, until they both get legally married.....unless they want you to continue controlling the ownership rights, it is all in their name now....i guess being the boss for so many years faded out facts from ur mind....my whole motive was to ensure you would never neglect my kids, because i knew you would snatch them from me somehow, u have the perfect knack of creating crevices in relations.....did you think i just became generous to the man who literally murdered my father????no, i did this knowing that for your own motives you would raise them well....and i figured you would not be bothered by this clause, cause you would never doubt yourself for manipulating situations such that they gave you all control....but at that time i did not care about what they would do at this age with the property rights....i was ready to risk you gaining the ultimate control over the whole empire, if only in return you would have to bestow them with only the very best upbringing....
As her statements dawned the realization upon samrat, he thought bitterly, how accurately she was stating facts....he had indeed figured that the way armaan and muskaan revered him they would voluntarily give him all control when the time for that came.....at that time all he had cared about was gaining monoply in dealing with this huge empire, and radhika had agreed to do it only this way....having no better alternate, and assuming that he would manage affairs such that this would not pose a potential threat ever in the future he had accepted it at her terms....n now he said aloud "well i was not wrong was i???my plan had worked all these years exactly as i wanted it to....and would have continued to..." he paused giving ridhima a venomous look "but for her" ridhima did not like his look, on an impulse gripped muskaan's hand as she was standing next to her...she felt her uneasiness and was going to anwer back samrat, but before she could do anything armaan had lept next to samrat, and holding onto his collar spoke in a thunderous voice "if you dare look at her again, i will make sure you pay for it in the worst imaginable way....you have caused whatever damage you had to in this family and now...."letting go of a visibly shaken up samrat, armaan continued in the same tone but at a lower volume, "you have exactly one hour to pack off from here....i hope i dont have to mention the consequences of not complying to that order...dad" he said the last word with a loathing ridhima could not imagine was coming out of someone like armaan...she felt his pain within her, thinking of how shattered and betrayed he must be feeling after coming face to face with the brutal realities....samrat completely out of his wits by armaan's behavior made a move towards radhika but muskaan came in his way and with a stone faced look she said "dont even think about it...." seeing that their really was no possible refuge for him in that room at the moment he moved out....and went to his room and taking out his frustration on the door slammed it....muskaan meanwile addressed armaan "bhai i know u would want to give dad a chance but i dont think its a safe idea...." she said glancing at ridhima....armaan interrupted "its mr. malik , kid, not dad.....and you are right....we have to ensure that he doesnt create trouble again...but i gave him my word and dont want to break that...." interrupting armaans spoken train of thoughts rahul quipped, "and i know just the 2 people who could handle it even better than us, having faced his games from much before we were even born"...as he comprehended what rahul meant, armaan smiled a stern smile and said "ur right...its time i talk to my sasurji, and u talk to your dad...they are bound to not let go of their chance to avenge themselves....saying so they both went out in different directions and made their respective calls..."
muskaan meanwile could not bare to look into the eyes of the women, she had belittled openly a short wile ago...shuffling her feet, without looking up she began "bhabhi i am..."while ridhima silenced her with a hug and said "please muskaan, we never offer explainations to people we love...i dint grow up with siblings so um not quite sure how it goes, but i am quite certain, u never have to offer justifications to your brother for any actions...will u treat me as family enough and not give me any either????..." hearing those words, muskaan just returned ridhima's hug whole heartedly and said "you are family bhabhi....bhai is a really lucky guy" a they broke apart ridhima said, "so now do i get the right to command you for something???" as atul n muskaan both looked at ridhima, puzzled, she said...."mumma has waited for her daughter's love too long, i think its about time you give her what she deserves???" atul smiled at ridhima's demand, and muskaan, with fresh tears walked towards radhika and without any words hugged her, letting her gesture do the talking.....while radhika, was just overwhelmed with joy, and looking up at ridhima from muskaan's embrace mouthed the words 'thank u beta'...seeing atul just standing and smiling at the family reunion...ridhima walked upto him and said...."i cant see how to thank u for the trust u showed in armaan n me atul...."before she could speak anymore atul said "i can see what u meant by not knowing how it was among siblings....if theres no justifications, there is also no thank u's n all that stuff...."saying that he gave her a light hug and said "i wont say sorry either, for not having had sense to have shared facts with ammy earlier or u might have had the kind of wedding u dreamt of....but will u excuse me for my ignorance this once???" ridhima nodded smiling at him...."who cares about that one day....i love u all....and i love armaan to have given me this family...."

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~an hour later~
everybody heard samrat's car start in the driveway and leave....no body wanted to even go and see him leave from the window, specially armaan and muskaan, who had a surge of emotions ready to burst out anytime now....as the action packed evening was drawing to an end, they were both were finding it harder to keep a check on their threatening outbursts bottled within....it seemed they were controlling themselves, only to not put the family through anymore than had already happened....rahul decided it was time to call off for the day, thinking he could take muskaan back home where she might be able to let her emotions out between just the two of them..atul agreed and left with rahul and muskaan so they would drop him on the way....before leaving, muskaan hugged radhika again and could only manage to say "il be back tomorrow mom, to see you"....with the three of them left behind, much as radhika wanted to spend time with armaan, now that she had finally got her son back after such a long wait, she realized that he needed that night to recover from the torrent of events that had blazed through the past 3 hours...she also knew ridhima would be the best person to handle him in this state....mumbling about how much past her bedtime it already was she hugged them both with motherly affection and retired to her room....
as ridhima shut the door behind radhika she turned around to find armaan had just slumped into the couch, and broken into incessant silent sobs....she ran to him, and standing before him as she tried to hold his face up, running her fingers through his hair ...he just pulled onto her around her waist n burried his head into it, unable to stop crying for several long minutes....ridhima just stood their feeling helpless and disheartened, but still holding gently yet lovingly onto his head, soothing him down by ruffling his hair and hushing him down....he seemed to have broken down not just physically but deep inside, it seemed to her for those endless minutes like he had lost his very soul...but also knowing that this outburst would help him like nothing else to be his strong self again.....as he finally started to calm down gradually, ridhima lowered herself to his face level, kneeling down facing him....caressing his face gently, wiping off the tears which were still flowing, though at much reduced intensity, not knowing how to begin, she just said "I love you armaan...i really do...." and as he stared at her with the hazel tearful eyes, she held his gaze with a steady passionate look in her own emerald ones....and then she pulled his face closer, holding it with both hands kissed him just below both his eyes to stop anymore tears from flowing, n then she moved onto his cheeks, and kissed him both sides with great passion, then pulling herself back looking at him she smiled quietly to herself, then faking a slight frown she said "show me your face" as he looked up she continued " now tell me the truth, where is my armaan????" despite his misery he looked at her with a completely perplexed and slightly irritated look and said "ridhima, ur trying to act funny with me instead of consoling me at such a time????" ridhima, glad to have distracted him enough to extract atleast some reaction out of him spoke again "funny??? i am dead serious man, how can i joke about my husband missing on my second night after wedding????now tell me where did you hide him????" armaan now looking at ridhima not just confused but also little worried, wondering if the events of the night had driven her a bit crazy said "ridhima????sweetheart, i know ur upset by all that happened, but have u finally lost it for real????I AM ARMAAN, whats wrong with you????"ridhima shook her head being stubborn " nope! ur not him i know, are u going to tell me where he is or else...." she looked around her and not finding anything useful, looked back at him and said, "else i will just shout and call all the servants of the house and get them to beat u up and throw u out of the house....do you understand????armaan now looked at her totally shocked, and seriously worried, his tears and misery simply forgotten for the moment and said very gently to ridhima, caressing her cheek slightly "darling please, ur scaring me now....look....are u under shock from the evening???" then mumbling to himself he said, "bad question dude, how can she tell u shes under a shock, if she is....oh god, she really must be shocked to talk such insane stuff....what should i do now???" and seeing him talking to himself making wierd faces ridhima could not help it anymore, and burst out laughing....seeing this sudden reaction come without any reason obvious to him armaan told himself "oh man....she really has lost it...." and speaking to her he said "honey..."seeing she wasnt listening but just giggling away, he said a bit louder n more sternly "HONEY!!!listen to me ridzi....whats wrong with u?????whats so funny???" not able to speak due to her laughter seeing armaan's reaction, she just pulled him closer and kissed him on his lips...then pulling apart as she saw him dumbstruck she said "still think i lost it or is that proof enough of my sanity????" seeing armaan look at her with a blank look now not knowing what to think she put her arms around her neck and said "Mr. 'know it all' malik, u fell for the kiddie trick....u know when little kids cry too much, and throw tantrums u confuse them to distract their attention, and then...BINGO!!they'r back to normal....i was just kidding silly....of course ur armaan....i mean c'mon...god couldnt have been ruthless enough to have made two like you and thrust them on the poor people of the world...." saying so ridhima giggled....while armaan interrupted her saying "WHAT???omg ridhima...how silly was that...god...n then u tell me i can never be serious....look at yourself....those are the jokes u crack and laugh at , at a time like this???" ridhima shook her head slightly and said "no they are highly inappropriate i agree...." then giving him an earnestly gentle and concerned look resumed "but if they stop you from breaking down the way u just did minutes ago, i dont mind acting insane....i love you armaan....i know how hard the evening was for you...n i know i should be talking serious stuff, and try to console you...but um sorry i just never was close to anybody in my life and dont know how to console people who matter so much to me....this is the only way i could think of at that moment and..."before she could say another word armaan had grabbed her and kissed her on her lips, starting softly, and then the passion just kept rising...armaan venting out his feelings not just from tonight but also the emotions he had kept bottled in during the two days of his wedding.....ridhima meanwile, had completely submitted to him, and as she reciprocated his passion, she ruffled his hair softly, and that drove armaan into kissing her even harder...when they finally broke apart, ridhima looked down blushing, while armaan lifted her face and said smiling at her...."still think um upset or is that enough proof that you consoled me well???" ridhima giggled and said "at least think of a new innovative statement, stealing my lines like that...." "well i didnt object to u stealing my heart, at least let me borrow ur lines!!!" then seeing that she did not seem flattered in the least he said...."ok ok i get it...cheesy lines dont do the trick with you my darling....so how about this" and as he bent forward to kiss her again she stopped him and said "hey hey hey....wait on.....i let u kiss me that once cause u were so upset....but now that u are back to normal, i think its time to remind u of the agreement we had" as armaan frowned a little, she thrust her hands towards him and said "find your name in there..."as he gave the 'NO WAY ARE YOU SERIOUS' look, she said "yes i am serious, find it or i am going to sleep....as it is um tired after almost 4 days of no sleep now....armaan looked at her like a child whose favorite candy had been snatched out of his hand just as he was going to pop into is mouth, but seeing her firm look, he sighed in resignation and slipped from the couch to sit down beside her, both of them leaning their backs on the couch for support...he grabbed her arm and locking it with his at the elbow said looking at her mehendi "ok armaan u can do it man....c'mon...u just graduated top of class in law school...this cant be so hard...." and hearing him talk like he was going to sit for the biggest exam of him life ridhima just giggled in glee....seeing her with a 'il teach u a lesson soon' look armaan said "dont laugh so much, cause the moment um done with this....."he left it at that, while ridhima gave him a naughty look fluttering her eyelashes more than usual at him "what then honey???" so he looked back at her with a sugar sweet smile and said "just wait n watch sweetie....it will be the longest night of your life.....i do have alot of things on mind we are going to do....just let me sort out this name thing first...."

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~ Part 21~

"C'mon ridzi, um done here...see i did find an 'A' ,'R' ,'M' and 'N'....thats enough to make up 'ARMAAN' why cant you just let it go at that now...." armaan pleaded with ridhima almost 30 minutes after he had started his alphabet search, and looking at him with a fake stern look while trying to control her laughter she said "No way ur still to find 2 more 'A's and ...."cutting her off he argued "but i found one, why cant u just reuse that ???" then thinking his charm might help him to find an easier way out of this, he nuzzled close to her neck and whispered "ur mehendi is beautiful....and dark....so ur husband should love u alot.....thats all i can read in that hand honey... " then feeling her slight shiver on this sudden unexpected move from him he grinned and getting further closer, softly nibbled her ear and said in a suductively hoarse whisper "love u sweetheart," and as he felt she was gona try her last weakening attempt to move and push him a bit away to stop him, he quickly but passionately kissed her neck letting his lips linger on a bit....and from being so close to her he knew she was slowly melting, so now locking his fingers with hers from the mehendi filled hand he been studying for the past half hour, he moved closer to her face and kissed her softly on her cheek, then seeing her close her eyes, and tighten her grip on their interlocked fingers, he knew she had now submitted herself to him not being able to keep within like him, the passion which had stayed battling inside her since the past 2 days of their misunderstanding.....he knew she was happy to be loving him for the remaining part of the night, moving slowly to come face to face with her he left a trail of kisses all over her face at times teasing her by kissing her very close to the lips and yet not quite....and then finally seeing her expression even with closed eyes was urging him to stop the game he kissed her on her lips, the passion so high by now, that he did not bother starting softer this time....and she softly moaned while kissing him back just as fervently, as she felt his hands slide from her neck downwards, letting her saree pallu fall off....an then without breaking the kiss he lifted her in his arms in one swift moment causing her to involuntarily open her eyes as she saw him take her to the bed....breaking off from the kiss, though completely unwilling to do so, he turned off the light, though through the curtains the earliest rays of the sun had started creeping in..... he slowly moved over her pulling off her blowse, as she shyly undid his shirt, without looking at him....he kissed her again, letting his hands now explore her, and love her.... and as the two lovers made love passionately, they both felt relaxed within, for finally being in this heavenly oblivion they had waited for, for an unfairly long time....while the dawning sun, instead of the usual moon, witnessed the coming together of their harmonious love....

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He slowly opened his eyes, and before a thought could find way to his head, his gaze fell on her and without realizing he smiled so deeply as he had not ever before....he had her in his life, and now each morning she would be the face he woke up to....he felt so happy, all of a sudden, that he thought his heart would not survive the sudden tornado of emotion, so he moved forward to give her a quick soft kiss on her lips....as he moved back, she spoke her eyes still closed "mmmm i have to admit i love ur bedside manners honey, and as she snuggled closer to him he replied looking at her in a naughty voice "i could so see that darling.....u just wouldnt let me go.....yawn.....n see now um sooooo sleepy....its all ur fault....." and hearing him say that she opened her eyes with an indignant look and hit him on his bare chest "yeh right....think you're too smart and charming????we will see how you manage to extract a single kiss out of me now...." and saying so she tunred her back to him, while smiling deeply to herself....." armaan pulled her closer so her bare back touched his chest, and said..."there's no girl in the world who can resist the charms of armaan malik, least of all you missy..." and saying that he started kissing her neck and then trailing downwards all along her back until she could stand up to him no more and turned around to hug him blushing deeply "i give up mr.malik....i have fallen so hopelessly in love that there isnt a way out of it for me now..." then breaking from her hug she looked into his eyes and continued "neither do i ever wana find a way out.." as he stroked hair , he got into the sitting position and cuddled her, she put her head on his chest....then as she looked up at him, her eyes fell on the clock behind him and she almost jumped away from him and screamed "OMG its 10am.....armaaaaan why did you not tell me... u jerk...what will mumma think and .."as she started gathering her sheet around her to move out of the bed he pulled her back...."relax princess....mumma is not a kid...thats why she did not send any wake up calls.....mumma has two kids and she has obviously seen these moments with......" and he just stopped short right there, his smile immediately turning into a hardened look and as he turned his face away to get back to himself, ridhima made him face her...."armaan....mumma has what she wanted all her life now....she has u and muskaan....and actually u r wrong....she has 4 not 2 kids....or did u just take rahul and my rights to call her mumma away from us????" as he looked back at her giving her a small smile she resumed "look honey...this might be hard for u...but the family is your responsibility now....mumma and muskaan need you more than ever....you have to be their support sweetheart....and of course....um going to be your support....um not too good at it...but i will learn with time...i love u so much darling....my love will never let you or our family fall down....."as she finished saying that armaan looked at her, wondering what he could have possibly done to deserve her and not knowing what to say, but feeling much more confident and determined hearing her words he pulled her into a tight passionate hug...."i love u too ridzi....i love u too.....and as long as we are together nothing can go wrong...." then lettin her go he said...."you'r right mumma needs me...even more than muskaan...rahul is with her and i know he will for her, like u will fr me, be there n never let her fall....but we four have to be with mumma at every moment now"....saying so.... he further said....."right then....." looking at her with little mischief...."much as u wud hate hearing this from me...it is indeed time to let go of the bed...." then pulling her close suddenly..."but dont worry honey...il be back in action soon....aaawwww when will it be night again" and he gave her a cute pack on her nose while she just pushed him back gently and said....."um goin to freshen up....." and as she moved towards the closet to get a change of clothes, armaan said "hey ridzi, wear red" she cocked her head back from the closet door and said "red????i thought u liked black and " cutting her off "yeh i suddenly realized red was more lovable!!!" and as he winked at her, as she shook her head going into the bathrom, he got up to look for the morning newspaper........

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as she came out drying her hair she saw him reading the newspaper with a stern smile....and feeling her presence he looked up to catch her looking back at him...his stern look immediately turned into a warm smile seeing her in a red churidaar...and feeling that same sweet smell in the air about him....as she walked towards him she asked "something interetsing in the paper darling????" he wondered how she read him so well, and then asking her to sit beside him with his eyes he said "yup...interesting indeed...." and he shoved the paper towards her....she read, her eyes widening as she read it and looking up at him she fumbled "but how...and when and....i mean...." armaan signalled her to stop with his hand and said "rahul and i realized after atul's naration of that conversation between ur dad and grewal uncle that those two would readily agree to help us against dad....i mean mr. malik....and ur dad knew him from grad school days so i figured he would know something about him to nail him down with an immediate effect....remmeber mumma had mentioned the swindling in accounts when her father was still alive????well of course dad had done that....but shashank uncle told me that the swindling had been in th deal between his dad and my grandfather....so he could help look up proofs and records to file an immediate reopening of that case....so that gives law reason enough to put mr.samrat malik behind the bars....meanwile rahul talked to uncle, his dad i mean...and they handled all the press statements which each one of us should give so that we dont face to media issue outside our house....the media is happy since we contacted them with the news ourselves so they wont bother with us anymore....right now they are making desperate attempts to extract a comment out of the condemmed in question....meanwile ur dad has found sufficiently good proof to give a strong case against mr.samrat malik....to sum it all up....hes gonna be behind the bars for a substantial period from now...n before he gets a chnace to ever come out of there i will ensure i have atleast enough cases up against him to keep him there for the remaining years of his life...." ridzi saw the hardened yet contenet look on armaans face she knew though he was doing what he knew was the the right thing that was not reason enough to make it any easier for him....so she squeezed his hand and said "you are sure you wanted to do this???" he nodded without a second of thought....so she continued " well then....um with u in it....we all are...." as he looked up to see her reassuring smile, she added "u still havent said i look beautiful...um waiting...." he shook his head smiling and said...."u do look gorgeous....u know if i had to say that every moment i thought u deserved it, thats all il be saying all day..." and giving her a a peck on her lips he said "thanx for being there honey....lov u..." "lov u too" said ridhima...."n now u get up to go n get fresh" "nah there is something i need to do first" he said and he went into the bathroom n brought out hair oil wih him then seeing her look he said "what???just wana get a massage from mumma....i hope u wont be jealous!!!" winking at her, he left with her standing there helplessly giggling....after she reached down she saw cutest mother son affection scene, armaan sitting on the rug, while radhika sitting on the couch just above him, was massaging his head, true happiness reflecting on her face, as they both laughed watching the TOM n JERRY show....

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~ Part 22~

She walked upto them n said, "so whats the order for breakfast sir???" and as both armaan and radhika looked up to see her in an apron and a chef's hat, ridhima, seeing radhika's confused look said "he hired me as the servant of the house mumma...so i am just starting off with my morning duties," she said with a tortured soul look to radhika as if seeking her help....and as armaan who was glaring at her and mouthing warnings for this trick, looked up at radhika to defend himself, she did not give him the chance just turning his ear hard she said "servant huh???? " and armaan just yelled "OOOWWWW mumma....shes lying....u dont know her...dont fall for her 'oh so innocent looks" she is a spoilt brat, and.... " looking at his mother with a humble look of self pity..."u think she would let me dare even speak before her, let alone ordering her about....poor me, infact, she was ordering me to clean up my own room to make space for her stuff" he ended with a bit of indignantion to which radhika reacted by turning his ear harder still "oh yeh????your room????its her room too now n u better clean it up for her...." and then looking up at ridhima she said, "and tell me if he doesnt do that beta....i will make sure i get the servants to throw out all his sports gear from that room......he keeps them all over the place as if its their domain, and they are allowing him to live amongst them..." as ridhima and radhika laughed, armaan just looked up at his mom with suprise and immense love....looking back to see his look radhika said "what???" "you know that????i mean....cause....." not finding words to ask her how she knew so much about him when he had not interacted with her in so many years he just looked down thinking of how to put the question, while radhika just lifted his face up, kissing his forehead said "um ur mother...." . and as they pulled into a hug, ridhima saw muskaan and rahul walk into the house with a huge box, and smiled giving her a thumbs up sign, and muskaan, handing the box to ridhima, closed her mothers eyes from behind and said "happy mothers day!!!"...armaan let go of his mom as soon as he heard the words, and said "omg....its mothers day????...." and looking at muskaan with a frown "so ur already getting her soft corner for urself ,are u kid???butterfactory as always....couldnt u call n remind me too???" and as muskaan stuck out his tongue at him, he looked back at his mom and said "happy mothers day mumma...." and hugging her he said again "will u forgive me this once if i promise to make up for all the years i havent wished u????"his eyes got moist saying the last words....and ridhima not wanting the happy atmosphere to be sacrificed to the past spoke up "no no no mumma dont listen to that statement please....in the one short month of being with me he has asked for that 'forgive me just this once' like a million times...its never 'just this once' for him...." and armaan shot her a dirty look , pulling radhika into a tighter hug said "no shes my mumma she will forgive me i know......right mumma???" radhika broke off from the hug laughing and said "depends on how u make up for forgetting !!!" and winking at ridhima she turned towards muskaan and pulled her into a hug next and said "um so glad u came....." radhika smiled at rahul looking over muskaans shoulder....while muskaan overcome with emotions, just nodded not wanting to cry....this time rahul broke the emotional point by saying..."mumma we got u something, bhabhi can u get the box here" he said to ridhima motioning towards the small coffee table lying close to the couch radhika was sitting on...opening the box radhika found a huge apple cinnamon cake with vanilla icing which said "WE LOVE YOU MUMMA" and had the four names 'armaan' 'ridhima' 'rahul' and 'muskaan' along the circumference of the cake....as radhika just stared at the cake for a few moments armaan looked at muskaan with an approving smile and gave her a nod.....then both he and muskaan held held the knife with her as she cut the cake and rahul just pased ridhima some graffiti filled balloons which they both burst over the mother and her kids giving each other hi fives....

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"where is champ now????he should have been here like ages ago" armaan said to himself frowning, while glancing at his wrist watch impatiently....while all the others just sat in the living room chatting with loud music playing, and having fun, armaan was pacing in the corridor outside waiting for atul, who should have come with the things armaan had asked him to get which were needed for the suprise he was planning for his mom....just then ridhima who was passing by, her arms full with the left over cake and all of the plates screamed "OUCH" causing armaan to turn around and run to catch the plates as they slid from her arms almost falling to the floor....looking up at her from the ground where he had slipped trying to get them all he sighed and said...."gosh honey....thats third time.....can u please remember before dropping stuff like that next time that u married a lawyer n not a cricket star???? as ridhima grinned back at him retorting "i wish i had!!!u know i always did have a huge crush on ricky ponting actually!!" armaan who was trying to balance all the plates looked at her with a sugar smile, giving her a dagger eyed look turning green with envy and said "oh really????how sweeeeeet...." then leaning deeper towards her as if telling her a secret he whispered" well u know what honey.....do try making him fall for u pleassssse....coz then i can start dating his sexy wife rianna who happens to be an outstanding law grad as well!!!what do you think???perfect match huh????" hearing him say that it was ridhima's turn to fume at him....as her joke backfired....angrily she stamped on his foot, and just walked off towards the kitchen with a HUH!!!armaan meanwile rubbed his foot slightly against the other calf, looking at her back, grinned, and then as the plates threatened to fall off again he moved quickly to follow her into the kitchen....as he gave her the plates one by one to put into the dishwasher, he saw that she was still muttering angrily to herself, and turning towards their househelp suzzane he said clearing hos throat "hey suzzanne something burning in here dont u think????" suzzanne grinned at him, but getting a nasty look from ridhima she moved towards the door hastily saying "ummm just remembered something i have to finish..." while armaan thought in his head ' perfect thats all i wanted....now its u n me honey...just the two of us!!!' he turned again to see her trying to grab the coffee maker from a high shelf in the wall closet....creeping from behind he gripped her by her waist and whispered in her ear "need help???" and though his touch made her blush slightly, she turned towards him straightening her looks and said..."no thanks i can manage" as she turned around again trying to grab the coffee maker, he whispered again, nuzzling down her neck, and said "hmmmm alright if you insist....i was just offering help since your mr. ponting wont be able to help you out with this...he isnt quite as tall as me you know...." and enjoying seeing her blush and shy, while trying to stay angry with him, he kissed her neck and continued "neither has my charm, i daresay!!!" ridhima meanwile was weakening completely by his acts of seduction, when she spotted the cake lying within her reach...smirking to herself now, she dipped her fingers deep into the icing of the cake and turning around to face him, looking into his eyes she said smiling "honey!! i dont deny you're captivating charm can work wonders on any woman, " and seeing him shoot her a suprised smile she continued " but are you sure you can beat my mr. ponting at the game of charms????" then seeing that he was just hooked onto everyword she was uttering, she caught him by suprise and messed his hair and face with the icing in her hands, and as a spontaneous reaction armaan let go of her to stop her, but that was all the time she needed to get out of his grasp....and running out of his reach towards the living room she yelled back at him giggling...." dont know about my mr. ponting but with that look u dont stand a chance with the sexy mrs ponting honey!!!" and as she left, armaan just stood there laughing and shaking his head....then licking off the cake from his face cheeks, he said..."mmmm good choice kid....but ridhima's truffle cake was still the best!!!" then smiling to himself he moved out of the kitchen speaking to himself "time for a shower finally i guess....i wonder whats delaying champ so much????"

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moving out of the shower, in casual shorts and a polo neck, armaan caught ridhima looking at him and he grinned asking "are we checking someone out here????" his words brought ridhima out of her daze, and she blushed cause her exact thoughts that second had been about his captivating looks, then looking at him she said in a teasing tone, "well i guessed since mr. ponting is happily settled i might as well put up with whatever best i have!!!" then moving towards him she encircled her arms around his neck and said "u do look handsome dear husband...um smitten!!!" and she winked at him as he quickly gave her a quick peck on her cheek, his damp hair smelling from the shower brushing her cheek....as they stared back at each other standing like that, rahul walked into the room and then covering his eyes he said "uh oh...sorry bro....bad timing....um leaving u guys go ahead...." and as he turned to go ridhima hastily let go of armaans neck blushing hard, while armaan frowned and turned towards rahul and said "hang on man....come back....now that uv successfully broken the spell" and as rahul turned around grinning his hand still covering his eyes armaan continued " can u cut the crap now n teme why u barged into the room like that??" trying to show indignant anger...rahul looked at him his eyes full of mischief and said " cause i forgot ur no longer the 'never fall in love' bachelor whose room i can barge into anytime" and then he continued getting serious "ammy i thought u called atul....when is he coming???isnt it time we start putting the plan into action for the surprise???" as ridhima looked at them with a questioning look, armaan said "yeh since u and muskaan conveniently ditched me with the cake idea, we boys ganged up to plan a surprise for mumma....n now u, mrs ridhima armaan malik, wait n watch what real surprises are like....not just the girly cakes and balloons...watsay rahul???" ridhima smiled at armaan....she was so happy to see how excited he was about this new found mother son love....hugging him she said...."if its for mumma, i hope ur gonna make a super effort to prove how small muskaan n my surprise was...." and as rahul was gonna speak up again all three of them heard a car drive into the driveway ....."ATUL" said rahul n armaan in chorous n ran for downstairs, to not let him come from the front door or radhika would see the stuff....as ridhima looked down from her window she saw the back of a smartly dressed girl as she came out of the drivers seat....n then she realized it wasnt atul's car at all....then she saw atul come out of the passenger side carrying a huge potted bush of pink roses and as he was moving with it slowly, the girl ran towards his side to help him carry it and...huh????why were they not moving....with a start ridhima realized that they just seemed to have been glued to that spot, and were staring at each other, the rose bush still between them....as armaan and rahul ran out towards them, ridhima saw them break away from what had appeared to her to be...AN EYELOCK????and as the girl turned around, ridhima saw she was gorgeous, with a beautiful smile....on an impulse, she decided to go down n help the guys with the stuff....as she was crossing the living room, she caught muskaan's eye and signalled to keep mumma occupied....then she went outside n said heartily..."hey atul we were waiting for u for like ages" and went on to give him a hug, while keeping a side look on the girl....as she had anticipated the smile on the girl's face dimmed out slightly on seeing atul hug her back....atul meanwile was thinking what could have called for this sudden hug from bhabhi....armaan and rahul were still busy with getting the stuff out of the car, so ridhima letting go of atul quipped with a sunny smile, "who's your friend here atul?" and atul coming back from his slight puzzlement over the hug smiled and said "oh yeh, this is anjali bhabhi, and anjali this is ridhima bhabhi, ammy's wife..." and as ridhima turned to look at anjali, her sharp eyes did not miss the fact that anjali's smile had eased out again....giving her a quick hug she said, "hi anjali...." then letting her go "nice to meet you...." then turning to atul she asked, "i dont remember having seen anjali at the wedding or the reception among ur other friends atul...or did i just miss meeting her???"....anjali replied "actually i was out of town for the entire last week, just got back last night....but ummm...congratulations....bhabhi??!!!" she said the last word as a part question as if asking ridhima whether she could address her that way...ridhima smiled at her warmly and said " thanks a ton dear".....then pausing and speaking more deliberately, while looking at their faces intently, "um sure atul must have missed you"....seeing atul shoot her a shocked look and anjali ever so slightly blushing she added "atul and all ur other frineds i meant...."

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

~ Part 23~

"OMG stop.....i cant breathe now.....please please....just stop...." muskaan tried hard to complete the whole sentence between her endless giggles as she leaned over her mom for support not quite able to stand straight with the pain in her stomach from nothing but laughing for the last over 5 hours....ridhima and anjali just hi fived each other, both in the same condotion, holding onto their stomachs, while they had tears in their eyes from trying to control laughter all but in vain.....as the passers by stared at them muttering, they laughed even more until radhika said "GIRLS!!!i know this is awsome fun to you, but much as you love it, i dont think its my age to make spectacles like this in a mall anymore" seeing her fake anger, trying to get them to obey her, they would have laughed more, but since she had indeed made sense they, with considerable effort, gradually stopped their giggles, and as soon as they heard her say "thats my angels!" all three of them pulled her into a bear hug together, she hugged them back smiling...the plan had been set into place the moment atul had come, who when questioned had attributed the procrastination to his car breaking down, and then just as he was thinking of a solution, anjali who had returned the night before had given him a 'hi hello call'...atleast thats what he called it....she had agreed to drive him upto the malik mansion, and being free for the day just decided to stay on when ridhima insisted....when armaan asked him why he did not even bother to call and inform them of the breakdown he mumbled something about forgetting to do so which made no sense to anyone so they just shrugged it off, much to his relief...ridhima was the only one, silently absorbing every action and reaction between seemed to her to be more than just a friendly couple....as per the quick instructions from the guys, without much explaination, ridhima had proposed an all girls shopping spree to radhika, which muskaan had completely agreed to whinning like a kid and saying "mom iv never had this chance before living with these three jerks please please please uv gotta say yes...." and finally anjali a bit hesitant, had finally, kneeling down to sit next to radhika, after getting a reassuring glance from ridhima quipped....."aunty i have not lived much with my family because of the transferable nature of my dad's job, and their wish for me to get stable education in one location...and i am ever so jealous when atul mentions the family activities and the fun involved.....please can we go...." finally giving in to the whims of her girls, not being suspicious in the least since they had seemed so earnest radhika asked the guys "but are you three sure you want to stay back and cook dinner for us...i mean armaan beta its ok...u dont have to this for me for the mothers day thing....wont it be boring for u to just stay back..... why dont u join us???" to which armaan had answered with visible scorn "mumma what are you saying???? which crazy guy would give up an evening of freedom from the brutalities of his wife and chose to go shopping with her instead....dont we pefer cooking rahul??...champ??" and seeing ridhima's "you are so dead' look he had pleaded to her with his eyes so she would just play along....and ridhima had said "yeh mumma and please one more shopping trip with him telling me to hurry up, and not try this and that and just pick up the very first piece of anything u see....no mumma its a nightmare...please lets just four of us go...." and so they had come....and then it had been an unbelievable time, with them going into antique ethnic wear stores and wearing starnge combinations from historical times and then doing some immitations of what they thought that particular character might have been like....ridhima had bought a certain greek outfit for herself and a matching one for armaan just to surprise him witha post wedding gift!!!that wasnt the end they had played 'no truth only dare' at the cafe in the foodcourt and done some insane gimmicks....the last one which they had just pulled off had been for anjali to go upto this geeky guy, and behave like she was driving a car, and offer him a car ride singing 'aaja meri gaadi me baith ja'!!! she had been a perfect fit into the ladies of this family from the moment they sat in the car....muskaan having known her a bit from before....ridhima had not failed to observe how somehow or the other atul would come into her topic of discussion inevitably no matter what they talked about....muskaan and radhika apparently were still so occupied by the new found mother daughter love that this obvious fact had elluded them so far.....so ridhima had decided to talk to them about it later...after, she mused,i have first talked to the person involved directly....now as ridhima glanced at her watch and saw it was nearing 8pm she said winking at muskaan and anjali, "mumma dont u think its time we go and check on the guys....um so scared of what state the kitchen will be in after they are done...." muskaan had added "the kitchen can be fixed um more concerned with the food we will have to gulp down to oblidge their efforts of having done it" as they had hi fived, anjali had said "hey but atul does some amazing barbeque and grilled chicken...." and seeing the raised eyebrows of the other three she hastily added "he did those for a potluck we had at my place once so ...." while radhika had interjected "yeh it is indeed time we head back...."

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

As they entered a dark house muskaan said "gosh bhabhi did they seriously burn the kitchen down, and then fled away not knowing how to face us with that fact????" and as the three younger girls gave quiet smiles, radhika said " muskaan ssshhhh dont speak like that um sure they are fine lets go in....." as they entered they heard the soft strumming of a guitar and slowly one small light shone to the centre where armaan stood with a guitar and sang moving towards radhika slowly....

Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata,Meri Maa

(at this point he was next to her when rahul appeared in a second spot of light with another guitar and sang)


Bheed Mein Yun Na Chodo Mujhe
Ghar Laut Ke Bhi Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Bhej Na Itna Door Mujkko Tu
Yaad Bhi Tujhko Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Kya Itna Bura Hoon Main Maa
Kya Itna Bura Meri Maa

(and then as as all the lights came on, the girls saw atul walked with his back towards them holding what seemed to them like a plant from behind, and singing while rahul and armaan played the guitar)

Unse Main Yeh Kehta Nahin
Par Main Seham Jaata Hoon Maa
Chehre Pe Aana Deta Nahin
Dil Hi Dil Mein Ghabraata Hoon Maa

then as atul turned around to face them with a TOUCH ME NOT bush, rahul and armaan went and stood next to him and the three of them ended


Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Hai Naa Maa
Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Meri Maa

the girls now tried hard to chek the threatening tears whlie smiling, radhika just stood their so dumstruck that her emotions did not show for a few moments and then slowly, she too had tears flowing down n she opened her arms to hug the 3 of them...as rahul and armaan walked to her and hugged her really tight, atul said after a few patient moments "yeh yeh this is fair now...i get to carry the heavy plant and you both get to play the star guitarists and then hug her as well " as they broke apart smiling at him he moved towards radhika and said "aunty, i havent seen my mother you know all that, but if she was here id give her the same gift," and saying that he held the pot up for her inspection looking at her with anticipation....radhika saw that very carefully photos of the 5 of them were pricked into the bush bed in the pot with her picture towering higher than the other 5....and on the pot was written " THE FAMILY TREE"!!! as she looked up at him not knowing what to say he continued "and its a touch me not plant aunty because while you are the head of the family no problems can touch us, as u will, we know, just like the plant, shut off contact when any harm approaches us" radhika was just speechless, she hugged atul....and then quietly added " atul, never say u havent seen ur mother again" and then rahul and armaan spoke "champ before you high jack mumma from us for good theres something else for u mumma if you would come along " and saying so rahul blindfolded her while armaan just lifted her off her feet and together all of them walked to the master bedroom of the house...as they entered, ridhima and muskaan could not help but gasp, but they in no way matched radhika's reaction when her eyes were released from the the blindfold...she looked at the room which to begin with had been shared by samrat and her...but for many years thereafter she had not entered it...and now the sight before her, wiped off any images she had of it from before..... on the wall just behind the bed, was a lifesize picture of her with armaan mukaan rahul ridhima and atul from the reception...and as she turned all around she realized the room had been freshly painted in different combinations and there were pictures of the the five kids all over the place....then one wall had pictures...really old ones...of her childhood with her father....and yet another wall had pictures of armaan and muskaan with her in the extremely early years of her married life...she realised how carefully they had ensured samrat was in none, and then she shook her head a bit telling herself inside to not think of him ever again....and then atul took her to the balcony of her room where he had carefully arranged an assortment of several perenial plants!!!while rahul muskaan and anjali moved forward to hug her....ridhima saw armaan was just leaning against the wall and tears flowing from his eyes without sound as she moved to him and held his hand he looked down at her smiling and said "um ok...just so happy to see ....." and before he could complete ridhima said "i know....but u know what....u did beat muskaan and me hands down honey!!!" saying so she quickly gave him a kiss on his lips and said "i dont know if saying I LOV U will ever be enough to show you what i feel armaan...but anyways...I LOVE YOU!"and armaan just pulled her to him so she rested her head on his chest while he carressed her shoulder "lov u too honey....all this is happening for real because of you...um so glad i trusted u and i trusted us...." n ridhima with unbound happiness inside, just to lighten the moment said "how come u never played a song for me on that guitar???" while armaan gave her a mock shocked look n said "ridhimaaa honey....of all the people now ur jealous of mumma....gosh!!!" as ridhima punched him lightly on his chest...

**********
it was way post midnight by now...the evning had indeed been alot of fun, but radhika after the endless excitement of the day was now trully tired....she wanted to hit the bed and dream all night of the wonderful time they had all given her, so she said "alright u continue the party while this old lady gets some rest" armaan said hugging her from behind and giving her a peck "old and u????no way ma....are u sure u wana go so soon???" to which radhika replied "yes i do beta cause unlike u and ridzi i wasnt in bed until 10am today" while everybody laughed at this ridzi just looked up shocked and then looked down again completely embarresed while armaan said "i know ma....thats what i was teling ridzi...that we are so late....but she was just....", winking at ridhima he said..."u know what i mean mumma right???" before radhika could answer muskaan spoke up..."not just ma we all here know what u mean...but unfortunately for u everybody here also knows u too well to buy that statement from u"....that broke off a second round of laughter and saying this muskaan sat closer to bhabhi and said..."yaayyy um loving teaming up with u against bhai, bhabhi....vengence is sweet!!!" seeing that they were getting into another never ending argument radhilka said with finality "alright...u guys have fun teaming up for word duels..il get going good night!" and she made a move towards her room when she realized that she now had a different one for herself....smiling she left...and then armaan went to ridhima and hugging her from her waist said in an audible voice inteneding everyone to hear it "erm...darling i guess we should go as well..."seeing ridhima give him a stern look to let her go he winked and continued "to bed of course!!!" and then before ridhima could retort he gave her a quick peck on her cheeks....ridhima was visibly way too embaressed now and just gave everyone around there a 'dont mind him' smile, while turning back to glare at him...rahul decided to call truce and said "alright, you guys can resume this seemingly intersting ...ahem ahem...discussion when u finally do go to bed..but before that....lets do something fun, now that we are all here....."how about celebrating confession day in advance" said ridhima, loking at atul, thinking it was time to set some records straight now...."i mean...how about we each confess something to one other person here about something we wanted them to know but have not managed to tell????" looking around she saw everybody approved of the idea....and she noticed atul was giving her a strange look, to which she responded with a smile, anjali meanwile was slightly blushing, but that was expected, what surprised ridhima was to see MUSKAAN BLUSHING????she wondered if she wasnt indeed imagining, but then as it did look apparent to her, even after a careful look she shook it off her head for then, thinking, later....armaan said "awsome sweetheart u started thinking smart with my influence," and giving her another quick hug before she glared at him he said "i will make chits and then as the names are pulled out we make confessions what say????" everyone nodded in agreement and the first chit was pulled out... it was rahul...he said "ok...umm lets see....um not sure this even matters anymore i mean its a completely forgotten issue...but i think i had prepared hard to say this at some time....n so though its inconsequential now id like to say it anyways...." saying so he turned towards ridhima and said "bhabhi when muskan and i learnt about ammy and u in the carribean i wasnt quite comfortable with idea i mean u know...the way we had been fixed to see each other by our dads and all that i wasnt sure of how to face u with ease...somewhere i just felt a bit guilty since i had not even explained things to you myself and had sent ammy to do it so u know i had certain hesitation about how it would be.....but within 10minutes of seeing u with armaan at the mehendi i knew how baseless my inhibtions were...and i just cant explain how happy i was for ammy n u....it was like a dream come true....and instead of feeling guilty i have been patting myself eversince to have been the reason for your first meeting with him..." sayin so rahul smiled and said further "i know all this did not have to be said....least of all now...but i still wanted u to know it nonetheless...." hearing his words muskaan looked at him with a dazed look of pride, at how mature yet sensitive the man she had married was, about others emotions....ridhima meanwile smiled back at rahul, and looked at armaan who gave her a slight nod, following which she moved towards rahul squeezing his hand said "you know rahul i never even remembered that thing ever again but um glad u said all this i trully adore the beautiful relation we share and if this was ever gona pose as a hitch, which i doubt would have happened, u have removed the very possibility and um so glad because after such a confession from u i know there can never be a point between us where either of us hesitate to share a cherished friendship...."and saying so she gave him a hug....which he returned smiling while armaan and muskaan looked at each other with the same thought...they coldnt think of better lifepartners not just for themselves for each other as well...then armaan said "alright thats enough of setting an impression on my wife rahooool now next confession...." and as they let go of the hug rahul and armaan grinned at each other.....rahul said winking "jealous bro????" to which muskaan said "too bad but ridhima bhabhi has better taste than me rahul, so bhai doesnt have to be jealous!!!!" and laughing at that ridhima pulled the next chit it was armaan she looked at him and with eyebrows raised in a warning look said "you dare confess any connections with that rianna ponting woman..." to which armaan grinned and getting closer to her said "not at all sweetheart i have a better way to shock you....lets go the bedrom" as he winked at her she said "armaaaan drop this now please its not funny anymore" ..."alright" he said...."il go alone then if you dont wana come" and saying this with a hurt look he walked off leaving ridhima shocked as she stood there for a few moments wondering why he reacted like that...and just as she was going to move to follow him he reappeared and said "i figured u dont like our bedroom so i arranged these..." and shoved a folder in to her hands as she opened she found the tickets and paper work complete for their honeymoon to.....GREECE??? she looked at him with a look which said it all...about how he never ceased to amaze her...at how he could sense what she wanted even before she knew herself...seeing she wasnt going to speak up he said "so what do u think....about the greek connection sweetheart????" as she leapt to hug him hard she said "omg honey....this is just....i duno what to say..." armaan pulling her apart said "say yes you are coming there with me atleast, unlike the bedroom" he said and gave her a kiss on her cheek...then said "looks like all confessions are targetted at u sweetie"....to which ridhima said looking towards atul and then anjali "not all darling, not all...." and then she looked back at him and said...."lov u armaan..."....while atul who was sure something was not quite right about bhabhi's reactions towards him today just said "ummm next chit????" and pulled out muskaan's name..who blushed and said..."ummm..." she looked at rahul and said "i was meaning to tell u this tonight....i mean....i came to know myself like an hour ago after i got a call...and...i mean...." she just looked down now n said..."ur ...ummm...u know..." she looked at him to help her say it....but he just gave her a clueless look wondering what it was...."um expecting...." and the moment she said this armaan jumped in the air while rahul just stood rooted to the spot not able to show his reaction and then armaan just pulled rahul and muskaan together n said "omg omg what the.....sorry no bad words but...u guys are gonna b....omg ...i dont blv this....ur fast kid" he said winking at her and while she blushed hard and rahul finally hugged her tight ridz came and hit armaan on his shoulder n said "behave urself stop teasing her atleast for now armaan" and atul who had just been finding a way to react now pulled armaan n ridhima into a hug and then jumped towards rahul muskaan n pulled them into a hug and then screaming and jumping saying yeh um going to be chachu he almost hugged anji...but stopped just short of it....and then scratching his head looked down n then back up at her n grinned...."anji!!!um going to b a chachu can u believe it????" while anjali just smiled...and as he moved back to join armaan and rahul who had swung muskaan in the air he pulled muskaan into a mid air hug while ridhima who even in her excitement had seen the interaction between atul and anji now noticed his wallet drop out of his pocket n fall open...as she bent to pick it up she was going to hand it back to him when she noticed...'ANJALI'S PICTURE IN IT'....she had a smile which reflected pure gleeand a glint of mischief in her eyes as she thought....wow this is one happening night....aloud she said to the guys..."can the bhabhi now get a chance to talk to her sister in law if u please..." .and as they put her down on the couch ridhima pulled her into a tight hug and then said "hey baby!!! welcome to the family....u know what ur the first one um getting a chance to welcome into the family...." and then whispering in muskaan's ear she said..."actually there's another member who will enter our family i have a surprise for u too but gime a little while...." and aloud she said "i think that calls for a celebration atul wont u help me with the drinks please....." atul in his excitement now did not notice that ridhima had called him not armaan and just oblidged following her....as soon as they reached the kitchen ridhima turned around and said "oh yeh u dropped ur wallet outside" taking it from her he said thanx and just as he was putting it in his pocket he realized the obvious and slowly looked at ridhima who was now smiling at him as if demanding explaination he said "bhabhi...ummmm theres ....well something i want to confess"...."about time " said ridhima as she sat on the counter ready to listen to what she had been observing all day....

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

as they finally entered their bedroom, ridhima just started dancing around humming...armaan looked at her and smiled then said "ur really happy ....." ridhima said "oh god armaan um so excited.....first muskaan's news and then...atul anji...isnt it just awsom....thanks armaan u gave me the best family in the world n i just cant believe one single day can hold so many surprises....' armaan looked at her and realized how much she had missed having a real family all these years.....then in mock hurt he said "hey baby....i thought u were gona say ur excited coz of the honeymoon..... " then as she looked at him he grinned and added "i love u ridzi...." ridhima just snuggled into his chest and said "muskaan must be so so excited...." and pulling her apart giving her a surprised yet naughty look then grabbing her hand he made her face the mirror and standing behind himself, he said "is that meant to be an indicator for me....." then perking up his smile even more he said "awsome sweetheart! u read my mind and steal my thoughts hun....oki look i want a princess first " pointing to her reflection said "just like that one" and ridhima shying said "armaaaan u can never be serious u jerk...." .and armaan replied " oh please um dead serious about this " and as she looked up to face him he said "by the way....we never got a chance to hear your confession for the night mrs ridhima armaan malik.....after that double super surprise package"....."my confession" said ridz "well there is quite a few things iv been meaning to tell you...but lets come to the main one....ummm before i tell u though, promise me u give me no counter punishments".....and armaan hugged her waist from behind and kissing her on her neck said, "ok no punishments, what is it"...."acutually i wana show u something " and she drew his gaze to her hand and said..."see that????" armaan looked not realising what she was showing him at first but then a careful look at it and he saw his name in her mehendi, the complete name....but then he also realized it was not the hand he had spent 30 minutes on....so he looked at her with a puzzled look and said...."i see darling.... thats very sweet of u to show me....but whats the confession...." "the confession my dear husband is that there were no more A's in the other hand that was just a prank to ...." "WHAT???and..... no wonder i found the 4 alphabets so quickly n never found anymore....and there u were having fun seeing me wrestle with ur hand to find those A's....n then....omg ridzi u r such a...."....n then giving her a intended look he said "n sorry i take my word back for no punishment....ur definitely paying for this...." saying this he twirled he around to make her face him and pulling her close he whispered in her ear..."u r making up for the time lost last night honey....in that fruitless treasure hunt" and saying that he just pulled her face into a liplock before she could make a sound to protest, and then as the moment grew into longer passing seconds he felt her kiss him back, with an ardor to match his....he caressed her back gently, while she moaned in pleasure urging him to never let go....as they finally broke apart, both out of breath, he looked at her as she lowered her gaze and brushing her lower lip with his thumb he said...."wow somebody seems enjoying her punishment" as she looked up to retort he silenced her putting a finger on her lips and said "and its only just started yet...." saying so he lifted her and took her to the bed.....

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

Atul smiled at anjali, seeing her dressed up as a beautiful bride sitting next to him....after two months from the night he had proposed her before all in that game of confession today finally they were getting married....he remembered how bhabhi had heard him out as he told her how he had first met her a plant show, and unlike anybody he had he met in life, she had talked about the plants as if they were human, the way he always did....and then how at the end of the show before parting they had exchanged numbers...then he had mentioned how after that their had been several occasions when they had gone out...just as friends...but atul had slowly started feeling about her being the special one in his life, since she seemed to understand him so well.....not just about his plants....but about him as a person his dreams and desires....but he had never been sure whether she felt the same way....until that evening...when bhabhi had thanks to the god above realized the obvious connection....and then they commonly thought of that wonderful proposal idea....atul had gone to bring the touch me not plant from radhika's room and when he finally knelt down before anjali he had shown her its changed version, where her picture had been added to THE FAMILY TREE....she had been completely baffled while armaan and rahul had fallen off the couch laughing at the way he proposed....armaan couldnt help saying "champ we had always feared u would marry a tree instead of a real woman ,but had never in our wildest dreams did we think u would propose a girl with one!!!" anjali meanwile regaining her sense had nodded and said a shy yes!!!smiling as he remembered the night, he looked at muskaan and rahul....n remembered also how that day had been special in not just one way.....it had been quite a night he thought....infact he corrected himself...it had been quite a week.....beginning from the point they got out of their final graduation exam.....and he mused, though both happy and sad....it had been a week none of them would ever forget....each having found a direction in their life that they thought made life worth living.....

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

As she looked at the picture postcard of the six of them from atul's wedding in her hand, which she had just received from mumma, for armaan and herself as they were in greece for their honeymoon, ridhima smiled sitting in the bed while armaan clung onto her his eyes still closed....as she sighed happily, armaan said..."and what makes my princess so delighted early morning, other than having the world's best guy beside her...." she gave him a quick kiss on his lips and said "mumma sent this for us" he opened his eyes to see the picture postcard and smiled up at her, "missing them???" and he snuggled his head into her lap....as she continued "armaan all my years of growing up i wished desperately for some imperfection to the perfect life i had.....n now thanx to mumma's message i know what it was i wanted......" and what does it say honey" asked armaan looking into her wishful eyes...."wishing u both many years of sharing the perfect imperfection: love" ......

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


part 23 friends....n the last one here....but i made it extra long....hope u enjoy reading it....the plot got over a couple of parts ago....but i do like reading and writing happy endings....so i did the end few parts....its been awsom writing the ff and reading ur awsome comments...n so many pmzzz my inbox has been flooded...lov u all....thanx a ton!!!!

p.s. i tried hard to not make it sound like a hindi movie ending....but all happy endings seem to sound the same!!!


Edited by spln - 12 May 2008 at 2:43pm

The following 50 member(s) liked the above post:

Armaan90sri_smileaarushi001pridarshi9Aditi-palanparthviammy_amnasimikajen4291lovvMahnaz93ahensevenkarankideewanixsisgeoDedivolAnokhee-tehreem-scorpio95archieliciouskshanikaashivanirajputesheenaakshiankitaCrazyy_Fanprachi06desire_20nondescriptcutiepreetSunainaTM007karans_angelpinkssbaryArushi.nyxx..kashish..-KSGsmitten-helen_of_troy-Prithi-rupzloveuAanya.FragranceOfLove-Seri-MeghzzkaransprincessSanju_SweetAddiction.prettyasjenEthereal-Path-AviatoR-oblivion..aftermath..

-aditi-

IF-Sizzlerz

-aditi-

Joined: 10 May 2005

Posts: 10501

Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:35am | IP Logged
doesnt seems as if its your first time...it's very well written!great startClapdo cont soonSmile 

addicted2ksg

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addicted2ksg

Joined: 06 April 2008

Posts: 2588

Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:37am | IP Logged
sounds awesome!!! cant wait to read more!!!

spln

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spln

Joined: 06 December 2007

Posts: 11036

Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:51am | IP Logged
Originally posted by aditisilawat

<FONT face="Comic Sans MS, Times, serif">doesnt seems as if its your first time...it's very well written!great startClapdo cont soonSmile



gee thanx Embarrassed i hope ul lik it right upto the end..keep reading!!!n replying!!!

spln

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spln

Joined: 06 December 2007

Posts: 11036

Posted: 03 May 2008 at 12:52am | IP Logged
Originally posted by armaanaddict

sounds awesome!!! cant wait to read more!!!


thanx um off from school for a wile so will try updating regularly....hope u continue liking it n replying back!!!

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