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Strings of Fate (Completed!) (Page 2)

desigal90 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 14 November 2007
Posts: 37409

Posted: 18 May 2008 at 3:05pm | IP Logged
By the time Saagar's team arrived in Heathrow International Airport, the clock had already struck 1:15. Everyone was dead tired and yearned to get into bed. They walked around languidly with their luggage and boarded the bus Saagar had hired for the team. Upon arriving at the hotel, they all went straight to their rooms and went to bed.
The next morning, the employees found themselves working in a hired conference room for the upcoming presentation. Tensions ran high and excitement shot up to the sky. Rhia moved around the room efficiently, overseeing everyone's reports and managing the overall presentation. She got a call from Saagar that he would be late and that she was in charge until he got back. A few hours later, Saagar called Rhia again and put everyone on leave for the day.

Saagar: Tell them they have to freshen up for tomorrow€™s big day.

Rhia: Will do!

Saagar: And Rhia, what are you gonna be doing?

Rhia: Well, I was gonna finish up some leftover work BUT (she put in right as he was about to protest), someone's not gonna let me work, now will he? (smiles)

Saagar: Certainly not. Join me for lunch at 12:30 sharp. Lets take a break from all this stress.

They bid farewells and hung up. Rhia hurried back to her suite and fished around for a decent outfit. She fingered her formal business wear, and paused. This lunch wasn't supposed to be about business. Giving it some thought, she finally pushed her formal wear aside and vouched for a casual top and jeans. She joined Saagar at a restaurant at exactly 12:20, ten minutes earlier. She was surprised to find him already seated at a table.

Edited by desigal90 - 19 May 2008 at 4:20pm

desigal90 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 14 November 2007
Posts: 37409

Posted: 19 May 2008 at 3:04pm | IP Logged
Rhia: hey!

Saagar looked up, and for a moment, his mouth dropped open. This was the first time he had seen Rhia in casual wear, and she looked equally stunning. Without the business attire, she had a more comforting look about her, which only caused a deeper connection between the two.

Saagar (getting up): There you are (hugs her and then leads her to her seat)

Rhia (settling down): Well, you're here early, how come?

Saagar: I got the job done early. How about you?

Rhia: I really didn't have anything else to do, since someone has forbidden me from work. (saagar grins) So I just gave Ritesh a quick call and by the time I was done, it was time to get ready.

Saagar: That's great! How is he doing?

Rhia: He's doing very well, thanks. Says the interview's tomorrow, and he's really psyched about it.

Saagar: Wow, so big day for all of us tomorrow, eh?

She nodded and sipped her water when Saagar got a sudden call. As he received it, his eyes lit up and he smiled. Rhia realized that call was from Aryan, his little boy. Saagar asked him how everything was going at home in complete detail. Rhia was very impressed by how in synch he was with his family despite being so busy. When he finally hung up, Rhia was staring at him with a wondering smile.

Saagar: What?

Rhia (shaking her head): How do you do it Saagar?

Saagar: Do what? (puts cell phone away)

Rhia: This! Juggle work with home. Business with kids. How do you handle all this?

Saagar (with a gentle smile): Simple. One is my means of work, and one is my life. When I get my work outta the way, my kids ARE my relaxation. Trust me Rhia, it all works out. You just have to make some time, but when you do, its all worth it.

Rhia: I cant even imagine living that way.

Saagar: No, it looks tough, but it really isn't. Don't let your work get in the way of family Rhia, that's one lesson I always teach everyone. You should really think of kids in the future, they're a blessing.

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat at the topic. Noticing her discomfort and lack of response, Saagar raised a brow and questioned her cautiously.

Saagar: You are planning to have kids, aren't you?

Rhia (uncomfortable): Maybe, we'll see.

That said, she gulped down the rest of her water purposely to seem preoccupied. Saagar didn' catch the hint and pressed on.

Saagar: What's the matter? Rhia, don't tell me you don't want kids.

She sighed and shrugged her shoulders as Saagar stared at her wide eyed. The truth was, Ritesh had always prodded her on that subject, but she always avoided it, claiming that she didn' feel ready to be a mother yet. But as time went by, she began to get the feeling that she never WOULD be ready for motherhood, especially with her busy lifestyle.

Saagar: Oh come on, why?

Rhia: I dunno, k. I just feel that I'm not really the maternal type of woman. Besides, I'm so busy Saagar, that how will I manage kids even if I do have em?

Saagar: That's not an excuse. I do just fine, and I'm a single parent. You at least have Ritesh. And yeah, what about him? Doesn't he want kids?

Rhia (fidgeting with breadsticks): Yes, but I'm just not sure anymore.

Saagar (after a pause): Rhia, excuse the question but are you happy?

Rhia (surprised): What?

Saagar (clearing his throat): Are you happy with Ritesh? With your marriage?

Rhia (stunned): WHAT? What kinda question is this? Ofcourse Im happy. Very happy! Why would you even ask me that?

Saagar (matter of factly): Well, I'm just saying. Sometimes, when a woman refuses to bear a man's child, its coz maybe she doesn' feel that secure with him. Or that she feels her future is uncertain.

Rhia (getting annoyed): That' absurd. Saagar that is the biggest bull I've ever heard. How can you even say that?

Saagar (shrugs his shoulders): Its something I've noticed. I have had so many friends that had this problem to the girl feeling that kids weren't for her. Some of them, when they got divorced, instantly became pregnant with their new partners (snaps finger) like this. And now they're all happy.

Rhia (standing up): I've had enough. How dare you insult my marriage? (coolly) I don't need to discuss this. Thank you for the wonderful lunch. Bye.

Saagar jumped to his feet and grabbed her hand as she tried to walk away.

Saagar: Woah, hold up! Wait wait, Rhia, just calm down, here, just a minute, please? Please! Just sit down, listen to what I'm saying.

He managed to seat her back down and put his hands up.

Saagar: I'm sorry ok, I shouldn't have said that. Ok, I'm sorry!

He kneeled by her and placed his hand on his heart.

Saagar: Truly, I'm sorry Rhia, ok? Listen, maybe my views aren't the most optimistic views you're heard, but that's because my experience with marriage wasn't all that great.

He moved back when he was certain she was calmer, but she still refused to look at him. He sat back down on his seat and proceeded.

Saagar: I don't have high views about commitment. In fact, I guess you can even say I stray away from it. But that doesn't give me any right to impose them on you. I'm sorry. Rhia(calling her name again) Rhia! Look at me please. Damn, I really messed up. Rhia come on yaar, dont let my foolishness ruin our friendship. Look, I admit I was wrong, ok?

She finally looked at him, but bore no expression. She seemed to be judging him.

Saagar: Plz can we just forget this happened?

Rhia (after a long pause): Ok but don't ever say anything like that again.

Saagar (sighs with relief): I wont. I promise. (smiles)

She nodded and both relapsed into an awkward silence. They were both glad when the food finally arrived, and shattered the icy silence between them. By the end of lunch, they had become somewhat normal. But that night, as Rhia slept, she dreamt of her and Ritesh arguing, and a crowd of babies yelling all around them.

Edited by desigal90 - 19 May 2008 at 3:08pm
desigal90 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 14 November 2007
Posts: 37409

Posted: 19 May 2008 at 4:22pm | IP Logged
That crisp Monday morning, Saagar's entire team entered the presentation hall with beaming smiles, some forced, while others natural. Rhia entered with a confident grin that matched her entire demeanor, followed by Saagar with his rigid steps and pursed lips. His heart was hammering, yet he attempted to conceal his nervousness. Rhia wasnt fooled, and touched his arm gently. He nodded to the crowd set up in front of the stage and signaled his employees to set up the presentation.

Rhia (whispering): You ok Saagar?

Saagar nodded and flashed her a timid smile.

Saagar: Sorta. I'm not really the guy for presentations. I have people who do that for me. Rhia, tell me again why we cant have my representatives talk?

Rhia: Because, this is your company. The passion you have for this project, no one else can have. And that will shine through when you present, dont worry. Now I'm gonna go up there and introduce ourselves, then I'll call you up? Ok?

He opened his mouth to protest but she gave him a tight hug to reassure him.

Rhia: Dont worry, trust me.

She drew away, gave his hand a tight sqeeze and walked up the stairs to the stage with a confident stride. From the side, Saagar surveyed the tightly packed room of executives and potential share holders and repressed a shiver. The speakers came to life with Rhia's clear voice and bolted him out of his dazed state. Cameras flashed all around as Rhia spoke with equanimity. She finally turned to the side, pointed to him, murmered something in teh mike and the room broke out into applause. With a flash of terror, Saagar realized it was his turn. Rhia made her way down the stairs, clapping and smiling, and frowned when she was out of the spotlight and besdies him.

Rhia: Saagar what's wrong?

Saagar (anxious): I dunno, I dunno what I'm doing. Rhia this is a disaster. I'm gonna go up there and mess everything up. Listen, just call someone else to talk. They'll do much better.

Rhia (laughing quietly): Saagar you're acting like a kid. Look, everyone's waiting. We've done this a million times. Just go up there and do what you did while we rehearsed. Its ok.

Saagar: Yeah, well its one thing presenting in front of you, and a whole different game while presenting in front of them. Shit, I have a bad feeling...

Rhia (urgently): Ok, just look at me then. (holds his hands) Just look at me while ur up there. I'll be in the audience.

He stared at her silently for a few seconds, and noded in understanding.

Rhia (smiles): Good, now go up there and show em what we're made of! This company's ur baby Saagar, you wont let it down.

That said, Rhia maked her way to the seats, and settled down in one to the side. Saagar made his way up. When he reached the mike, he was blinded by the lights for a second, adn couldnt see anything.

Saagar: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I'm Saagar Malhotra, CEO of SM Tech... (continues)

He pushed off with a shaky start, until his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, and he spotted Rhia sitting in one of the seats. She gave him a thumbs and smiled in reassurance. A sudden courage flooded into him at seeing her energy charged eyes, and he took a deep breath. This time when he spoke, his voice boomed around the entire hall with renewed confidence and power. Rhia's hands were clasped on her lap, anxiously watching him with baited breath. As he neared the end of his speech, Rhia stood up and walked around the stage to the side, awaiting him to come down. At the end, the audience broke out into fervent applause, and Saagar put his hand up in gratitude as he walked back down. Another employee then took his place on stage while Saagar walked down the stage with a wide grin plastered on his face. THe minute he touched ground, Rhia ran and jumped into his arms in excitement.

Rhia (hugging him): Saagar you were brilliant! I'm so proud of you!

Saagar hugged her back and closed his eyes energetically. When he drew back, both faces were flooded with happiness and thrill.

Saagar (breathless): I know! I dont know how I did it, i still cant believe it. Thank you Rhia! Thank you so much! (pulls her back in a hug)

After the presentation, everyone crowded around the exuberant business partners to congratulate them on their success. With every compliment he recieved, Saagar would push Rhia forward and claim that she was responsible for this success. Not used to being congratulated, Rhia blushed and smiled at the numerous compliments thrown her way.

Employee #1: Well done sir. I think this presentation went extremely well. You two made a great team!

He shook their hands and walked away. Saagar stole a look in Rhia's direction and smiled.

Saagar (to himself): We did...didnt we?

As if sensing his attention, she looked his way and flashed him another smile.

Rhia: I think this calls for a celebration.

Saagar: Yes, yes it does. (to his team) Attention everyone. Dinner's on me tonight! A treat for the entire staff. You all did a great job!

The staff cheered as excited businessmen filed out of the hall.
desigal90 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 14 November 2007
Posts: 37409

Posted: 19 May 2008 at 9:45pm | IP Logged
Music boomed in the backgroud of the club and lights flashed across every face, making familiar faces seem unfamiliar. In the midst of all this noice, Saagar and Rhia danced, talked, and laughed together. Rhia felt like a different person altogether. Her past was blurring into the background, and all that stood out was the present. Her current job, SM Tech, and Saagar. For a moment, it took an effort for her to remember who she truly was. With a guilty conscience, she felt depressed. This is the life she had always wanted, always envisioned. Fast paced, thrilling, and busy. Sometimes, she wondered if destiny had made some sort of mistake. And then her conscience attacked her with full force. How dare she even think this way? She was very happy with Ritesh and loved her life just the way it was. Saagar was a just a temporary phase that would pass, she reassured herself. In the midst of the commotion, her cell phone burst into life and she excused herself to attend to it.
She made her way out of the club and took the call.

Rhia: Hello?

Ritesh: Hey Rhia

Rhia: Ritesh? Hey sweetheart, how are you?

Rithesh: Good. Where are you?

Rhia: Huh?

She was somewhat surprised with his question. She had expected him to atleast ask her how she was, but she pushed it aside.

Rhia: Well, right now the entire staff is celebrating at a local club. Ritesh the presentation was a huge success! Can you believe it?

Ritesh chuckled on the other line and Rhia frowned.

Rhia: What's wrong?Arent you happy for me?

Ritesh (dryly): Sure I am. Your career has taken off big time, eh? Tell me one thing, when was ur presentation over?

Rhia: Why are you talking this way? Umm, it was over around 2:00 pm, why?

Ritesh: And you couldnt give me a call to tell me?

Rhia (speechless): Ritesh, I was gonna. I mean, everything's happening so fast, that I didnt find the time. The entire staff had to get ready for the celebration afterwards. Saagar's thrown us a treat...

Ritesh (snapping): Saagar! Saagar! Saagar! Is it always about him? So that's what your business is about? Going to dinners, lunches, and clubs with SAAGAR?

Rhia (stunned): Ritesh! What the hell are you saying? What's wrong with you? I mean, how could you even say that? *feeling tears in her eyes*

Ritesh: Oh, so now you're getting defensive about him too? Wow, you two are progressing quite fast arent you?

Rhia (after a pause): Oh my're drunk. Ritesh are you drunk?

For the first time, she noticed a slur in his words, the unmistakable sign of a drunkard's state.

Ritesh: So what if I am? Not everyone's life goes teh way they're planned Rhia, ok? You and your high class boss had a fantastic day! What a success! That man has you in the palm of his hand! He can impress you with his looks, his clothes, his style. Please you whenever he feels like it. Now I lacked that, didnt I?

Rhia (calm): Ritesh, you're not making any sense. Get yourself into bed, we'll talk when you're in your senses.

Ritesh: Ahh, cut the crap! I am in my senses. For the first time, I knwo that I am in my senses. I didnt get the job, Rhia!

Rhia (hurt): Omg...jaan I'm so sorry. Its ok though, you're gonna do better next time. I know you will.

Ritesh: Yeah...whatever. We're drifting apart Rhia.

Rhia (crying): Dont say that

Ritesh: Lets face the facts. We're drifiting apart.

Rhia: Its normal to feel that way, we havent seen each other in such a while. But its gonna be ok Ritesh. (impulsive) I'll come visit you this weekend!

Ritesh: Really? You will?

Rhia: Yeah, I promise. Everything's gonna be fine, trust me.

Ritesh: Ok...if you say so. Bye Rhia. Have a great time...with your boss.

Rhia (trying to hide her pain): Bye Ritesh...I love you.

There was a pause in which she waited for him to reply back, and then she heard a click and the line went dead. She pushed teh phone into her purse and burst out crying.

superstar15 Senior Member

Joined: 30 August 2007
Posts: 803

Posted: 19 May 2008 at 9:55pm | IP Logged
grt ff but the last part was said Unhappy
desigal90 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 14 November 2007
Posts: 37409

Posted: 19 May 2008 at 10:04pm | IP Logged
Thanks! I'm sorry :(
I hope you guys like the full story though!

Rhia left the club before everyone else. She felt a little bad about not informing Saagar, but she just couldnt face anyone anymore. She wanted to lock herself in her hotel room and remain in there for the rest of the week. Once she got back to her hotel, she instantly changed into her sleepware and tried to call Ritesh back. The bell rang countless times, but he didnt pick up. Feeling even more lousy, she buried her phone under her pillow and settled into bed, weeping silently in the darkness. Sometime later, she heard a knock on the door. She got up and pulled on her robe. When she opened the door, she saw Saagar's lowered head snapping to look up at her. He looked a little unsure and embarassed at the situation and put his hands into his pockets.

Saagar: Hey...

Rhia: Hi

Saagar (running his hands through his hair): Umm...I hope i'm not disturbing you but you came without telling anyone, and I was just worried.

Rhia (forcing a smile): Its ok

Saagar: Uhh...can I come inside?

She fidged on the spot. Ritesh's words circled her thoughts as she stared at Saagar. Was she getting to friendly with him? If yes...then where was the limit? Where should she have drawn the line limiting her friendship with Saagar? At the last instant, she followed her heart and moved aside for him to enter.

Saagar: Thanks

She closed the door after him and turned around.

Rhia: Come on, sit down.

She led him to the bed and they both sat the corner. He looked at her, unsure of what to say next. After getting a long hard look at her, he realized that her eyes were bloodshot from crying.

Saagar (concerned): Rhia, is everything ok?

She touched her eyes instincitively and felt hte moister around the edges. She looked away and wiped them dry before looking back and puting on another false smile.

Rhia: Yeah, I'm...uhh...I'm good. I'm fine.

Saagar: You sure?

Rhia: Yeah (looking away)

Saagar: Look at me. I said, look at me. Yeah, now tell me. Everything ok?

She looked at him hard, willing herself to remain strong, but his eyes bore into hers. She felt all her barriers breaking, and a sob escaped her throat. His reaction was instant. Before she knew it, she was sobbing on his shoulder and he was rocking her gently.

Saagar: Shhh, its ok. Tell me what's wrong.

He waited patiently for her to regain her composure and finally allowed her to withdraw.

Rhia (sniffing): Its Ritesh...its all...its all falling apart. I thought we could handle being away, but... (breaks into tears again)

He fetched a box of tissues and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

Saagar: Now just wait a minute. You're overreacting Rhia, tell me from teh start, tell me exactly what happened.

She recounted her conversation on the phone as calmly as she could (ommiting the parts about Ritesh being jealous) while he watched with calm and understanding eyes. Finally, he drew her back in a warm hug and spoke gently.

Saagar: Ok, now here's my piece of advice. The way I see it, both of you guys are overreacting. Every relationship goes through such distances, and I'm guessing this is your first time?

She nodded and he continued.

Saagar: Go see him this weekend.

There was a pause, and then she pulled back, disbelieving.

Rhia: What?

Saagar: I mean it. Go back and give him a visit.

Rhia (speechless): Yeah but Saagar, the tour, I mean, our next presentation's this weekend, and...

Saagar (cutting her off): No buts! I can handle it, dont worry about it. Come on yaar, give me that much benefit of the doubt, that I can handle ONE presentation without your help (smiles)

Rhia: Saagar...I dont know how I can ever thank you.

Saagar: You can thank me by going back and fixing this mess. That way I wont feel guilty (grins)

She shook her head and smiled.

Rhia: I promise I'll be back for our last one.

Saagar: Yeah, just meet us in San Franciso, that's our last destination. We'll end with a bang, and by that time, I'll learn how to do something on my own for a change, haha.

Rhia: Saagar, you're one amazing guy, you know that?

Saagar: And you're one amazing woman (with a farawary distant smile) Uhhh (suddenly shaking out of it) I better be going now, before people start getting the wrong idea about us. Now promise me, no more tears. You're gonna fix this. Ritesh seems like a very understanding guy. So no more tears, promise?

Rhia: Promise!

With one final reassuring hug, Saagar left her room as she closed the door with a smile.

desigal90 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 14 November 2007
Posts: 37409

Posted: 19 May 2008 at 10:07pm | IP Logged
The following weekend, Rhia paid Ritesh a visit in New Delhi. Ritesh's face housed a glow that he had been lacking in weeks as he welcomed Rhia into his meager one room apartment. The room was littered with his undergarments and dicarded shirts. He hastened to clean up the mess with an embarrased smile while Rhia stood outside, chuckling to herself. Typical Ritesh.
He had been very embarrassed with the way he had behaved on the phone, and apologized countless times. Rhia brushed the sour memory aside and changed the subject everytime he brought it up. She was here to spend some quality time with her husband, and to try and mend a minute rip in her marriage. There was no use for unpleasant talk.
He took her out for a day at the park, but Rhia found her thoughts drifting back to the unfinished project and inevitably to Saagar. Saagar, with his generous nature and understanding smile, always found his way into her thoughts. What must he be doing right now, she found herself thinking. Ritesh and Rhia were sprawled out on the cool grass, watching the clouds drift by when Rhia's cell phone rang. Ritesh looked at it with contempt and held her hands.

Ritesh: Let it go, just enjoy ourselves

Rhia: Ritesh I have to check, it might be important.

Ritesh (wtih a sigh): Fine

She fished out her phone and said with a start.

Rhia: Oh, its Saagar.

Ritesh's face darkened instantly and he withdrew his hands from around her. Rhia noticed the sudden change, but proceeded to accept the call anyways. When he saw her accepting the call, he turned his face away and cursed silently to himself. She ignored the sound and continued to talk.

Rhia (uncomfortable): Hey Saagar...

Saagar: Hey! What's going on Rhia?

Rhia: Umm, nothing much, just spending some time wiht Ritesh (looks sideways at his angry face)

Saagar: That's great yaar! But man, you have no idea how much I'm missing you right now. Its hell out here. (laughs)

Rhia: Umm...yeah, me too (ritesh looks over with a sneer) Uhh, saagar if its ok, can I call you back?

Saagar: No wait, I have something important to talk about.

Rhia (pleading): Saagar plz, Ritesh is with me and...

Saagar (cutting her off): Exactly, that's why I called. I need to speak with Ritesh. Can you give him the phone?

Surprised, she mustered to ask him why.

Saagar: Remember you told me he was having issues with that job? I think I might be able to help him.

She told Saagar to hold on and then looked sideways at her frusterated husband. Seeing her questioning look, he snapped.

Ritesh (angry): What? Is he done ruining our evening, or there's more?

Rhia (covering the speaker): Ritesh! He wants to speak with you.

His mouth dropped open and he stared at the phone in her hand in disbelief. She offered it to him and he took it cautiously, almost as if it would bite. Putting the phone to his ear, he spoke with utter confusion.

Ritesh (unsure): Uhhh...hello?

As Rhia watched with keen interest, she caught bits and pieces of their conversation.

Ritesh: Umm, Sanghania Industries, why? (listens on phone while nodding, his expressions suddenly become even more surprised) Oh ok, hold up.

He turned to Rhia and motioned for her to take out a piece of paper with something to write with. She reached into her purse and withdrew a pencil and a mini pad, which he took hastily.

Ritesh (scribbling a number down): Ok, yeah i got it...355-9115...k. Its Mr. Azeez? And I just tell him that you sent me? (after a pause) K...thanks man. Thank you so much. Uhh...(smiling distinctly) yeah, thank you. I mean, this is great, this is really great. I dont know how I'll ever repay you (laughs). Yeah, she's right here, bye.

He turned towards her and passed the phone onto her, still in shock and wonder.

Rhia: Hello?

Saagar: Hey, I hope that helps you guys out a lil bit.

Rhia: Saagar I dont know what to say

Saagar: Just tell Ritesh that if they give him further problems with the job, that he should call me immediately. Can you believe it? I just found out that a friend of mine has a very influential position in that very company. Lucky, eh?

Rhia (laughs): Saagar, you're crazy!

Saagar: Naw, I feel like I owe you something. You've done so much for me, you know. Well, you two seem like you were having a great time, sorry for the interuption!

Rhia: Saagar, dont apologize, plz. You're so amazing, you're beyond amazing. I dont even know where to start. (feeling emotional) thank you, for everything! Thank you!

When Rhia hung up the phone, she found Ritesh in deep thought. He looked up suddenly wiht a look of deep regret.

Ritesh: I had the guy totally wrong. I thought YOU totally wrong. I dont even know where I should begin to apologize, no let me Rhia. Now I know why you respect him so much. He really is one great guy. I promise you, from no onwards, no more acting stingy about your work. Saagar Malhotra seems like a respected man.

Rather than replying back with words, she hugged him instead, feeling that things were settling down after a very long time.
desigal90 IF-Stunnerz

Joined: 14 November 2007
Posts: 37409

Posted: 20 May 2008 at 2:29pm | IP Logged
After a pleasant weekend with Ritesh, Rhia headed straight to San Francisco to meet up with Saagar for the final presentation. He personally recieved her at the airport with a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. They embraced each other like friends who had been reunited after years, and laughed at their own behavior later on. The final presentation went exceedingly well, and before anyone could count down the days, Saagar and Rhia were boarding the flight back to India. Everyone was seated comfortably, and as usual, Rhia and Saagar sat together, chatting excitedly about the past days. The hours flew by just as quickly as the days had. A comforting silence settled between them and both enjoyed the moments without a word. When Rhia looked towards him afterwards, she was surprised to find him staring at her with a look of regret.

Rhia: Saagar, what's wrong?

Saagar: I was just thinking...our project's over.

Rhia: I know, wasnt it great? It went so much better than I had expected yaar, you have no idea!

Saagar (sighing): Yeah, I guess it went well.

Rhia (concerned): Why the long face?

Saagar: Dont you get it? Its over. Those were the last few days that WE spent together. Your time with this company was just as long as this project, and therefore, your time with ME is over.

For the first time, the thought struck Rhia, and she felt a pang of pain deep within her somewhere. No more Saagar? No more morning coffee together along with their usual conversation? No more lunches, no more dinners, no more dances? Watching her face fall, Saagar felt even more depressed.

Saagar (with a forced smile): I think I'm getting Rhia withdrawels already, haha.

Rhia: It doesnt have to be this way Saagar. We're still friends, we're still gonna see each other, right?

Saagar: Ofcourse we are, but its not gonna be the same

Rhia (laughing): Saagar Malhotra, quit whining like a kid! I have your number, and you have mine, you are welcome to give me a call anytime you want.

He smiled and held her hand in his. She felt a strange comfort with this small gesture and didnt pull back her hand. For the remainder of the flight, they talked at random times, and slept for a few hours. And all this time, their hands remained entwined.

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