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Wish Upon A Star - ArSh FF (P16, pg 58) (Page 55)

DulceAmor IF-Rockerz
DulceAmor
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Posts: 8395

Posted: 24 April 2012 at 7:35am | IP Logged
Originally posted by vidi263

Hey there,
 
Sorry for the late reply...just caught up with work...
 
Both the parts were amazing!! mature - that's the word I can think ofClap
 
None of them acted impulsively and tried to run away from their feelings. Shilpa seems to be clearer about her feelings than Armaan but again Armaan has a past...He is confused but not apprehensive about the development...He's at least not bringing any bad news for us Wink..Woh kehta hai na..No news is good news!!Smile
 
I like that Armaan is aware of the difference in his approach towards Shilpa and Riddhima...it's a good thing that he is thinking about the difference and the possible reason behind it...I think it will unfold in the upcoming chapter and may be he's clearer in his mind too!!
 
Kudos to you for writing so beautifully...Clap I promise you..When and if I decide to make a show, you are going to be the writer of that show Smile , I am sure it is going to be so much better than most of the shows these days...what say?????
 
Vidi


No need to apologise Vidi. I'm just really glad that you were able to find the time to read it and that you felt the update merited a comment. It's great that you thought I wrote it well. It's a hard thing, trying to tell the story that's in my head while keeping in mind what expectations my readers will have, but it is important to me that Armaan reacted this way. He is not going to realise just like that that he is feeling something deeper than friendship for Shilpa. He needs the time to get it straight in his head, which is why I put so much emphasis on his comparing his different reactions to the two women. The thing is, he never thought there would be anyone but Riddhima, so the shock of realising that maybe there might be has thrown him and that is why it is harder for him to sort out what he's feeling than it is for Shilpa. He will indeed be continuing to puzzle over it in the coming chapter, and I really hope you will like the direction it leads him in. He's doing a lot of growing up and learning about himself.

Thank you for saying I wrote it 'beautifully', that is such a wonderful comment and I cannot express the feeling such praise gives me. Embarrassed  And yes, I would be on board for your show! Consider me signed up if you ever do make it! WinkBig smile

Thanks again for all your support! Hug

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vidi263

kapilab Newbie
kapilab
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Posted: 25 April 2012 at 6:08am | IP Logged
Hi,
Enjoyed this update a lot. I marvel at your writing, after all capturing emotion is so much more difficult than capturing action.
Though I am curious about Armaan's past it is his present with Shilpa in it that really holds my attention.
So many times good friends remain just that because they are afraid to change status quo. Looking forward to seeing Armaan and Shilpa overcoming that hurdle and leaving the baggage of their pasts behind.
Really, Shilpa does sound like an angel, even after having to face such negativity in her life she is so giving and positive.
Nice to see Armaan and Shilpa brining out the best in each other.
Can't wait for the next part.
Regards, Kapila

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DulceAmor

DulceAmor IF-Rockerz
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Posted: 25 April 2012 at 12:56pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by kapilab

Hi,
Enjoyed this update a lot. I marvel at your writing, after all capturing emotion is so much more difficult than capturing action.
Though I am curious about Armaan's past it is his present with Shilpa in it that really holds my attention.
So many times good friends remain just that because they are afraid to change status quo. Looking forward to seeing Armaan and Shilpa overcoming that hurdle and leaving the baggage of their pasts behind.
Really, Shilpa does sound like an angel, even after having to face such negativity in her life she is so giving and positive.
Nice to see Armaan and Shilpa brining out the best in each other.
Can't wait for the next part.
Regards, Kapila


Hey Kapila, first of all, thank you for reading my ff. It is always wonderful to hear from new readers and I am so happy to know that you have enjoyed the ff. Embarrassed  I guess I have always placed emphasis on the emotions in my writing. I do that because when I read a story I like to know what the characters are feeling and thinking. I find the best stories are the ones where you can really get inside their heads and see what makes them tick, so I try to emulate that in my own work. I'm glad that you are liking Armaan & Shilpa's friendship and the positive effect they have on one another. For me, love should be based in friendship as much as attraction, and I wanted to show how these two broken souls could be made whole again together. Shilpa remains loving because she never saw that any injustice was done to her. She feels her family was right to have treated her the way they did, but Armaan is helping her to see that they weren't. Likewise, she's helping him to see that being angry at the whole world is not a good way to live his life. I hope that they balance one another out in that respect.
Thanks again for reading and commenting. I really hope you will continue to enjoy my ff and the direction in which I am taking Armaan & Shilpa. Embarrassed
fri42911 IF-Dazzler
fri42911
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Posted: 22 May 2012 at 11:37am | IP Logged
very well written!!!!!!
loved how you showed the distinction b/w Shilpa and Riddhima.
please continue soon!!!!

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DulceAmor

KaShAdmirer Groupbie
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Posts: 107

Posted: 31 May 2012 at 1:41pm | IP Logged
missed you and your excellent writings,
don't know whats going on at your side, hope soon you'll find a way to come here and write something for us.
missing ArSh tooo Embarrassed


take cares

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DulceAmor

DulceAmor IF-Rockerz
DulceAmor
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Posts: 8395

Posted: 06 June 2012 at 7:03am | IP Logged
Originally posted by fri42911

very well written!!!!!!
loved how you showed the distinction b/w Shilpa and Riddhima.
please continue soon!!!!


Thank you! It's really great you felt I handled showing the differences between the two girls well. That, I guess, was the major reason for this part, to show how they both tried the same thing with Armaan but with different results. I am so sorry to have kept you waiting, but I can finally say that the next update is coming in a matter of minutes! Smile

Originally posted by KaShAdmirer

missed you and your excellent writings,
don't know whats going on at your side, hope soon you'll find a way to come here and write something for us.
missing ArSh tooo Embarrassed


take cares



I'm so sorry hun, for not being here for so long. I have been trying to write whenever I can, but things have been crazy busy here. We're in the middle of golfing season so work has been packed and on my days off I've been out a lot with the family. But luckily, I have managed to write and yes, I am gonna update in a matter of minutes. Big smile 
P.S. - I missed all of you and my ff too. Hug

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KaShAdmirer

DulceAmor IF-Rockerz
DulceAmor
DulceAmor

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Posted: 06 June 2012 at 7:10am | IP Logged
Hello everyone. I sincerely hope you all haven't forgotten about me and my ff. It must seem like I forgot about it, but trust me I haven't. I never anticipated that I would get so busy, but what with working 5 days out of 7 and being taken on a lot of family outings on my days off, the time to write has been limited. I apologise for keeping you all waiting and I feel this piece I'm about to present to you won't make up for my prolonged absence, but I thought it better to update something than to keep you waiting another month! I do hope you all will be able to find something in it to enjoy. It expands upon Armaan's past, which I know a lot of you were curious to find out more about. I hope it will shed some more light on why he has been so reticent with Shilpa and so confused about his feelings for her. It was written over many weeks, so please ignore any errors or inconsistencies as I've not had a chance to proofread. And as always, comments/criticisms/likes are much appreciated and valued.


Chapter 16

Why had he pushed Riddhima away when she'd tried to help, but not Shilpa? Both women had attempted the same thing – to make him face up to his resentment towards his father – but only Shilpa had gotten through to him. There had to be some reason why she had succeeded. But what was it?

            He'd loved Riddhima. She'd been his soul mate, the biggest source of happiness in his life, and by default that should have meant that she had the greatest influence on him. He'd always thought that he would do anything to make her happy, and yet he'd ended up hurting her more than anyone. It went against everything he'd ever heard or read about true love.

            Sighing, he fished his wallet out of his jeans pocket. Opening it, he slipped a finger under one of the flaps and pulled out a dog-eared photo. It was a passport-sized photo, taken in one of the booths dotted all over the shopping malls in the city. He remembered the day it had been taken as clearly as if it had been yesterday. It was last Christmas. Riddhima had dragged him out shopping with her and on the spur of the moment she'd pulled him into one of the booths, claiming she wanted a picture of them together.

            The faces that grinned up at him may as well have been that of strangers. He barely recognised himself, and it had nothing to do with the shorter, neater hair. How long had it been since he'd smiled like that – wide and beaming – and did his eyes even have a sparkle in them nowadays? His cheek rested against the side of Riddhima's head, his arms wrapped about her tightly, as if he were afraid to let her go. Her long, black hair hung loose, but most of it was obscured by the big, bright blue woollen hat she'd worn that day, the one he'd teased her about. She was smiling, broadly, gaily, her eyes bright and shining; happy.

            We look so in love, he thought, the way he had every time he'd looked at the photo since their break up. His eyes swept every inch of the picture, trying to find some clue of what was to come a few months later, but as always he found nothing. Because their break up hadn't been inevitable, he told himself. They had been – they were – destined to be together. He'd known it all along.

            Then why was there that niggling doubt creeping up the back of his neck, that wicked whisper in his brain that refused to be ignored, that kept insisting that Riddhima hadn't been meant for him. He shook his head, trying to clear it, but shivers were starting to run down his spine and an uneasy feeling was churning about in his stomach. It's the pain of losing her, he told himself; only, he knew that was a lie. Just like this morning, the habitual burning sensation in his heart was absent. The photo didn't ignite any emotion in him, whatsoever. It was like he'd become detached from it, from Riddhima, from his entire past.

            Before he had a chance to figure out this new turn of events, his phone buzzed loudly in his pocket, making him start. He dug it out and read the caller display: Muskaan. She'd sent him a text message. Sighing again, he hit open. Her message was short and blunt and he could practically feel her dissatisfaction jumping off the screen.

           

            Where r u?

 

He wasn't in the mood to reply to her. He closed the message and was in the process of putting the phone away when his brain finally registered the image set as the background. Frowning, he lifted the phone closer, so he could see it clearer, convinced his mind was playing tricks on him. But when he looked again he realised that he hadn't imagined things – his background really was a picture of Shilpa. It was the one he'd snapped in the hospital canteen. He had no idea how it had ended up his screensaver, but as he gazed down at it he found his lips curving into a wide arc and that warm feeling from earlier swept over him again.  

            "Whoever she is, hold onto her."

            Armaan's head snapped up at the unexpected voice. An old man, face wizened and wrinkled, eyes dull and glassy, was standing beside him. He was wrapped in a tattered old duffel coat and he had on dark brown gloves that were peppered with holes. When he smiled at Armaan, he noticed that the old man had several teeth missing.

            "She must be someone special," the man commented, "to have brought that look to your face."

            "No. I-" Armaan stammered, his heart inexplicably thudding.

            The old man gave a wheezy laugh. "I've been around long enough to know when a man's lost his heart," he said. "Happened to me once too. Long time ago, now, but I remember how it was – that fluttering feeling you get when you see her, the way her smile makes you think of sunshine, how you can't imagine anything more beautiful than her face. Ah, yes, I remember it all."

            Armaan's eyes momentarily flicked down to the man's left hand. There was no wedding ring on his third finger. "What happened?" Armaan heard himself ask as he glanced back up at the old man's face.

            "I lost her, didn't I?" the man sighed, shaking his head. "I was a bloody, stubborn fool and I never plucked up the courage to tell her how I really felt. We were friends, you see. She was my best friend, had known her all my life. But she was so beautiful, so clever, so much more than I could ever be. I didn't want to embarrass her by telling her what I felt. And one day she met someone else..."

            Whatever light had been left in the man's eyes went out as he trailed off. His thin, chapped lips pursed tightly together for a moment, but they trembled, as if he couldn't quite hold in his grief even after all these years. Sadness washed over Armaan and he lowered his eyes, looking back down at the freezing river.

            "I'm sorry," he said.

            "Why?" the old man laughed, no bitterness at all in his tone. "It wasn't you who acted like a fool. Have no one but myself to blame. But take my advice, son – hold onto that girl. That feeling that she gives you, it's the most precious thing you will ever find. Never let it out your sight. You don't want to end up alone on Christmas like me."

            Armaan glanced down at his phone again, at Shilpa's photo, that cute little pout, her brows all furrowed, but her green eyes twinkling with mirth. Just looking at that picture made his heart leap in a way he would never have thought possible. Another smile tugged at the corners of his lips and the unmistakable rush of happiness passed through his bloodstream.

            But that didn't mean he loved her! Yes, she had brought his smile back, he enjoyed spending time with her, he thought she was beautiful, and when he'd kissed her last night he'd experienced a desire stronger than any he'd ever had before. And maybe he wanted to run his fingers through her hair again, to hold her in his arms, to kiss her again, but that was purely physical; it was his body reacting the way it would to any attractive woman. Right?

            It didn't mean he had feelings for her.

            "But, how-" he started to say, lifting his head.

            To find that the old man was no longer there. The spot where he'd been standing was empty and though Armaan looked all around, there wasn't a single trace of him. It was like he'd vanished into thin air.

            With a baffled frown, Armaan glanced back down at his phone. He gazed at the picture of Shilpa for a few more minutes, a strange sensation in his chest. His heart was beating quickly and he felt short of breath, his lungs a little tight. He couldn't tell if it was panic or something else and that uncertainty made the dent between his eyes deepen.

            It was only when he slipped the phone back into his pocket that he realised he was no longer holding the picture of him and Riddhima. His pulse gave a jerk and he turned in a circle, eyes searching the ground for it, but to no avail. Somehow it must have dropped out his hand. It could be anywhere by now; it might even have fallen into the river. He leaned over the railing, peering down into the icy water below, but if the photo had made its way down there it must have been carried away on the current because he didn't see any sign of it.

            Sighing, he stood straight again, accepting defeat. Like Riddhima, the picture was gone. That should have left him devastated, should have had a gnawing ache in his heart or tears springing to his eyes. But it didn't.

            "She's gone," he admitted out loud.

            And for the first time he felt ready to let her go.

 

About an hour later he walked back into his sister's house. He'd no sooner stepped into the living room than she jumped up from the sofa, her brown eyes flashing, and strode over to him. He opened his mouth to speak, but she never gave him the chance. The next thing he knew the palm of her hand had connected sharply with the side of his face, leaving a burning sting in his skin.

            "Ow!" he cried, rubbing his cheek. "What was that for?"

            "You!" she hissed with such force he actually jumped back a step. "How dare you go off like that without telling anyone where you were? Where have you been? And why the hell didn't you answer your phone? I called you five times, Armaan! I was worried sick!"

            "Okay, okay," he responded, holding his hands up in a defensive gesture. "I'm sorry."

            "Sorry?" The word was more a scream than speech. "You have been gone four hours! You missed dinner! And you just walk back in here and think 'sorry' is good enough?"

            Armaan was getting ready to bite back at her, when he noticed the glassy sheen of tears in her eyes. Looking closer, he realised that her hands were shaking violently and her hair was sticking up at angles, like maybe she'd ran her hands through it one too many times.

            Instantly his temper evaporated and a sharp stab of guilt got him in the gut. As annoying and overbearing as Muskaan could sometimes be, he couldn't stand the thought of distressing her, and he mentally kicked himself for it.

            "I should have answered my phone," he admitted, hanging his head in shame. "And I know, I should have told you where I was going. But I didn't know. I just needed to get out, clear my head. I didn't mean to worry you."

            "Don't ever do that to me again," Muskaan told him, but most of the anger had left her voice. She sniffled loudly, dashing a finger under her eyes.

            "I won't," he promised, reaching out and placing a hand on her shoulder. She gave another sniff and tried to scowl at him, but the corners of her mouth twitched, ruining the effect. A second later her lips broke into a wide beaming smile and she stepped forward, taking Armaan's face in her hands.

            "Thank God you are okay," she said. "I had visions of you lying on some street corner with a knife in your chest."

            "I'm fine," he assured her. "I went down to the river for a while. I guess I lost track of time."

            "Your dinner is still in the oven," she told him. "It'll be burnt, but that's what you get for disappearing all afternoon." She attempted to look severe, but there was too much of a sparkle in her brown eyes. "Come on."

            She ushered him further into the room and he finally noticed Shilpa. She was standing over by the couch, twisting her hands together agitatedly, her eyes repeatedly flicking between the carpet and his face. She looked pale and though she smiled when their eyes met, it looked strained. A cold knot of worry coiled through his stomach, but he didn't get a chance to say anything to her for Muskaan was herding him into the kitchen.

            "Here, sit," she ordered him, all but shoving him into the chair.

            She bustled over to the oven and brought out a large plate, heaped with food. As she set it down before him, Shilpa slid into the seat opposite him. He glanced furtively over at her and their eyes met. Her lips curved briefly into a small, almost sad smile, but it wasn't that which held his attention; it was the redness of her eyes. They looked puffy and had a shimmery sheen about them, like maybe she'd been crying not too long ago. His heart gave a sickening lurch as he registered that and the unmistakable shadow of anxiety in her eyes.

            "Are you all right?" she asked him and her voice sounded thick with emotion.

            He nodded. "I am now."

            She glanced down at the table, running a finger distractedly over the placemat. "I'm sorry."

            Armaan frowned. "For what?"

            "It's my fault." She sighed and lifted her eyes back to his. There was a look in them that sent a chill to his core – it was a look of remorse. "I shouldn't have pushed you into talking to your father. Of course it was going to upset you. I should have thought. I should have-"

            "Shilpa, it's not your fault I walked out," he interrupted her. Reaching across the table, he caught her hand in his own. Her pupils deepened, giving her face an incredibly soulful and innocent aspect that pierced his heart. I did this to her, he thought, self-loathing sparking within him.

            "You didn't make me talk to my father," he told her. "I had a choice, didn't I? I chose to."

            "Yes, but I was encouraging you-"

            "And don't you know by now that I won't do anything I don't want to do?" A small, wry smile touched his lips. "Actually, I'm glad that you persuaded me to talk to him."

            Her eyebrows rose a fraction. "You are?"

            He nodded again, his thumb absently stroking across the back of her hand. Shilpa tried to ignore the sensation of little shocks that the movement caused in her skin.

            "Yes," he answered her. "I should have done it a long time ago. When I was out, I realised that all these years the bitterness has been eating away at me, seeping into my life, affecting every part of it. Maybe if I'd confronted it before now, things might have turned out differently."

            Before he could say any more, Muskaan came over and put a plate full of food down in front of Shilpa. Her eyes fell away from his and she drew her hand out of his. He frowned at the plate and his sister noticed.

            "Shilpa wouldn't eat anything until she knew you were okay," Muskaan informed him, fisting her hands on her hips with a severe expression. "You see how worried you made everyone?"

            She didn't stop to get a response from him, padding off into the living room to bark orders at Rahul. Armaan barely noticed, anyway. He was too busy gazing across the table at Shilpa with a kind of dismayed horror. Looking closely at her, he could see all the marks of her distress. Her skin was even paler than he'd first thought and she pushed her food about her plate with the air of someone who'd lost their appetite. She didn't look up at him and somehow that made it worse. It was like she was ashamed and he hated himself for having done this to her.

            You destroy everything that's good in your life, Armaan.

            His hand curled into a fist as he heard Riddhima's damning words in his head. She'd been right, of course; he'd figured that out many months ago. An image of her flashed into his mind: lips pursed tightly together, face flushed, that terrible look in her eyes, a mixture of revulsion and hurt that he would never forget no matter how long he lived.

            The room fell away from him and he was there again, standing in the front yard, the hot summer wind buffeting him, slapping his skin as effectively as any hand. Every time he'd looked back on that moment since he'd wished he hadn't gone there that night. And he wouldn't have, had he been in his right mind, had he been sober. But from the moment she'd walked out of his office that morning he'd been plunged into a rage so potent that he'd seen no other way out but through drink.

            After silently fuming in his office all morning he'd gone to the nearest pub at lunch time and downed five pints while his chicken salad lay untouched before him. On his way back to the office he'd stopped by the newsagents to buy a twenty-four pack of beer, which he'd carted back with him. His boss had intercepted him in the hallway and the stench of alcohol on his breath, coupled with the pack in his hand had led to him being sent home.

            It had been the worst thing his boss could have done. Alone in his apartment, Armaan had downed can after can, trying to escape the burning rage, trying to forget the hurt in Riddhima's eyes when he'd torn the plane ticket to shreds. But instead both had grown and grown inside him until beer cans started hitting the walls and tears were streaming down his cheeks.

            It had been around that point he'd decided that he had to go and apologise to Riddhima. He had to make her see that he hadn't meant to shout at her, that his fury had been directed at his father, not her. She had to understand, had to forgive him. He had been certain that everything would be fine if he could just get on her good side again.

            The only problem was, by this time, he could hardly stand. He'd drunk all the cans in the pack and the room kept dancing about him, going in and out of focus, objects blurring around the edges so that he couldn't quite tell what anything was meant to be. Just trying to get out the apartment had proved a feat; he'd tripped over at least a dozen times before he made in out into the warm summer night.

            Riddhima had lived with her parents out in the suburbs at that time. It was quite a trek from Armaan's downtown apartment, but somehow he'd made it there. He'd stopped off to buy a bottle of beer from a corner shop on the way and he'd swigged it as he went, but thanks to his staggering most of it had actually ended up being sloshed over his chin and down his shirt.

            The night had been hot and humid, dark clouds gathering to the west, sitting above the city skyline like ominous witnesses to the tragedy that was about to unfold. A hot wind had been blowing, sending static prickles up and down Armaan's arms. By the time he'd reached the detached white-washed mansion sweat had been trickling down the back of his neck and his shirt was sticking damply to his skin. The smell of alcohol had been magnified by the humidity, but he'd barely noticed as he stopped underneath Riddhima's window.

            His eyes had cast about, looking for something to throw, like he'd seen countless heroes do in the movies. Bending over to retrieve a pebble from the driveway he'd nearly toppled face-first onto the pavement, but miraculously he'd managed to save his balance, sloshing more beer over himself in the process. His aim had been skewered by his drunkenness and the small stone had barely hit the balcony underneath Riddhima's window when he threw it. But at the time he'd been quite proud of his efforts.

            Throwing his head back, he'd bellowed, "Riddhima!"

            At first nothing had happened, not even a curtain had twitched. Undeterred, he kept yelling her name, until, finally, she appeared on the balcony above him.

            The moment he saw her his heart had swollen with his love for her and a goofy smile had split his lips wide open. He'd stepped forward, wanting to pour his heart out to her, to tell her how sorry he was and how much he adored her. But her eyes had narrowed, a coldness settling in them that he would have recognised as a sign to back off had he been sober.

            "What are you doing here, Armaan?" she had demanded.

            "Riddhima, Riddhima don't be angry with me," he'd pleaded, slurring all his words. He'd taken an unsteady step forward and more beer had sloshed out his bottle. "I came...to see you."

            He had to pause to think of the words and her eyes narrowed further.

            "You're drunk!" It hadn't been a question, but he'd found it important to make a reply all the same.

            "No I'm not!" he'd cried. And then he'd hiccupped loudly. A look of disgust had twisted up Riddhima's face, her eyes shining brightly and hardly in the dark.

            "Look at you!" she'd exclaimed. "You can barely stand upright! You're in no fit state to be here."

            "But I came for you, my love, my life." He'd lapsed into Hindi, using every term of endearment that he could think of and inventing a few besides. But it didn't have the heart-melting affect he'd hoped for.

            "You should be ashamed of yourself, coming here, like that!" Riddhima had declared. "If my parents see you they will be furious. I'm calling you a cab." She'd fished her phone out her pocket. "You need to go home and sober up."

            "No!" he'd cried, panic surging within him. "Riddhima, you have to listen to me! This morning-"

            "Please, Armaan, just go," she'd cut through him. He had never been sure, but sometimes he wondered if perhaps there had been a glint of tears in her eyes right then. "I can't stand to see you like this. You know that."

            "Like what? Riddhima, I came here for you. To apologise to you. In the middle of the night. Can't you see how much you mean to me?"

            "You came here because you are drunk!"

            There had been a thick layer of accusation in her voice and it had acted like a slap, backing him up a step. And in that one moment in which he had been stunned into silence, the front door of the house opened and a man came charging down the front drive, hands curled into fists by his side.

            Armaan didn't notice him at first; he was too busy staring up in shock at Riddhima, and besides, the world was swaying indistinctly about him, making it hard to see anything clearly. But he heard Riddhima's gasp, heard her call her brother's name, and he was acutely aware of his shirt collar being grabbed roughly as someone yanked him towards them, sending the bottle of beer crashing to the ground.

            "What the hell have you done to upset my sister?" The words were spat into his face. They belonged to Abhimanyu, Riddhima's older brother, who was a boxer in his spare time. He had held Armaan in an iron-like grip, his face all scrunched up, veins popping into stark relief. The two men had never liked one another. Abhimanyu didn't think Armaan was good enough for his sister. Armaan just thought Riddhima's brother was a dick.

            "Abhi, please, leave him alone!" Riddhima had called from up above. He'd merely ignored her.

            "Do you know she came home in tears today?" Abhimanyu had snarled. "What the f*** did you do to her?"

            "It's none of your business what goes on between us," Armaan had hissed back at him. "Now let go of me before I turn your face into pulp."

            Abhimanyu had let out a long, low laugh at that. "Yeah, right. Like you are even capable of hitting anything right now. You stink of beer. Have you no shame, turning up at my parents' house, drunk? I always knew you were a waste of space, but today you proved it."

            "Abhi, let him go!" Riddhima had come rushing out into the front yard. She'd put a hand on one of her brother's arms, but her eyes had flicked to Armaan and there was real contempt in them. It had pierced his heart like a shard of ice. "Armaan was just leaving."

            "No, Riddhima, please hear me out," he'd started to beg. "I didn't mean-"

            "I want you to go, Armaan," she'd interrupted him, her eyes hardening. "Now."

            "You heard her," Abhimanyu had said. "Get. Out. Of. Here."

            "You can't tell me what to do. I came to see your sister and I'm not going to let a jumped-up prat like you stand in my way."

            "You are not going anywhere near her," Abhimnayu had said in a low, menacing tone. It had acted like a spark of flame, igniting the simmering rage within Armaan. Temper swept over him in one, giant, overwhelming wave. Every muscle in his body tensed, his jaw snapping tightly together, nostrils flaring as a red mist descended in front of his eyes. He couldn't think, couldn't reason; his brain had switched off. All that was real to him in that one moment had been the fury coursing like lava through his veins.

            What happened next was burned onto his mind indefinitely. As long as he lived he would never be able to forget it. Even now he could picture it all in Technicolor clarity, as if he were watching it unfold on a HD flatscreen. He saw his own face contort with resentment, saw the challenging flash of Abhi's eyes, and saw himself flex his arm, swinging it back as he prepared to punch Riddhima's brother in the face.

            But Abhimanyu had seen it coming and with brutal force he'd shoved Armaan, sending him sprawling on the gravel drive. The sharp stones had embedded themselves in his back as he landed amongst them, scraping his skin, the hot surge of pain only serving to inflame his anger. Riddhima had gasped, a hand flying to her mouth, but she'd stood there, motionless, as her brother moved to stand over Armaan.

            "You useless waste of space!" Abhi had sneered at him. "You can't even aim straight! You're pathetic Armaan Malik! Pathetic!"

            Something inside Armaan had snapped at that. To this day he couldn't say what, all he could remember was the flash of white-hot hatred that had passed through him, overriding every other thought and feeling. The broken fragments of the beer bottle had been lying to the side and somehow his eyes had caught the glint of the moonlight off one of the jagged pieces. He hadn't stopped to think what he was doing. There had been nothing in his mind, nothing but the need to wipe that smirk of Abhi's face. He was furious – at him, at his father, at Riddhima, at the whole world – and he wanted retribution, in any shape or form.

            In his mind he saw his hand snake out and snatch the jagged-edge shard of glass before he jumped to his feet and lunged at Abhimanyu. A second later there was a startled gasp of pain from the other man and when Armaan had looked down, the shard had been sticking out of Abhi's left upper arm. Blood, deep crimson, almost black in the night, had welled up around it, snaking down Abhi's arm like a parody of a tattoo.

            What have I done, Armaan had thought, reason returning in one shattering, sobering rush. Stunned into horror, all he had been able to do was stand and stare at the tapestry of blood working its way down Abhimanyu's arm. His stomach had turned over, bile rising up the back of his throat, and with a sudden violent motion, he'd fallen to his knees and retched, bringing up the entire contents of his stomach.

            Over his heaving gasps he'd heard Riddhima's anguished scream, heard her feet dash across the gravel and her voice, high-pitched and bordering on hysterical. When the nausea had finally passed, he'd glanced up and found her frantically dabbing at the blood on her brother's arm with a ripped piece of material. She'd torn the end off her t-shirt, he'd realised. Her face was wild, her eyes large and frightened, tears streaming down her cheeks, her hands shaking uncontrollably. Armaan had never seen her so distressed and the sight had sent a million fissures through his heart.

            "Riddhima, I-" he'd began to say as he hauled himself to his feet.

            "Don't you dare speak to me!" she'd bellowed, whipping round to face him so quickly and violently that he'd jumped back in alarm.

            In all the time he'd known her he'd never truly seen her furious; annoyed, yes, angry, even, but never like she had looked then. Her eyes had blazed at him and there had been real contempt in them. He'd known with a terrible, gut-wrenching clarity in that moment that he'd lost her forever, that he'd made her despise him. And he couldn't blame her. Even now, after all these months, the memory of what he'd done made his stomach heave and self-loathing spill into his bloodstream, a slow and steady poison.

            "You always have to ruin everything, Armaan!" she'd screamed at him. "You are destructive! I used to think you were just unused to loving or being loved, but it's more than that. You are incapable of good. There's a rottenness inside you and it spills over into everything around you. You are so full of hatred and resentment that you can't let people in! You spurn their attempts to help and you break them down, the same way you're broken!"

            Her words had slashed into him, more painful than any whip or sword. He'd felt each blow right to his very core, each one leaving a mark on his soul. Tears had welled at the backs of his eyes as he stared at her in dismay, but there had been no pity in her expression, only disgust.

            "Riddhima, Riddhima, I'm sorry," he'd tried to apologise. "I wasn't thinking. I-"

            "You never think, Armaan! That's the problem! You are so full of hate that it blinds you. You took out your anger on me and now Abhi. You could have killed him!"

            "I didn't mean-"

            "You destroy everything that's good in your life, Armaan." And suddenly her face had changed, that terrible, cold hardness coming over her expression. It was that look, more than anything, that had truly fractured his heart. "But I won't let you destroy my life. I don't want to become another one of your casualties. It's over, Armaan. I never want to see you again. Now get the hell out of here before I call the cops."

            She'd turned her back to him then, grabbing her brother and marching him towards the house. Armaan had been left standing there, rocking back and forth on his heels, too stunned to be able to do anything else. He'd felt as if he'd been hit by a tidal wave and was slowing drowning. There had been no air in his lungs and though he fought to breathe, he hadn't been able to. Every last cell in his body had ached as surely as if he'd been stretched and wrung on some torture device. He'd felt broken, inside and out, hollow, as if there was nothing left inside him anymore.

            When and how he finally staggered home, he had no recollection. Days, weeks, months, they had all lost their meaning from that point on. Looking back, the last six months were nothing more than a series of foggy impressions; bouts of painful lucidity between the endless haze of drunkenness. The only thing that stood out was the constant agony in his heart; that had never left him, whether drunk or sober.

            But it wasn't there now. In fact, he realised with a start, he didn't feel anything looking back at that terrible night except a dull sense of inevitability. He shook his head, trying to clear it away, and his eyes focused on Shilpa again.

            She was chewing slowly, her eyes cast down on her plate, and though her lashes obscured them from his view, somehow he could sense that there were tears shimmering below the surface. His heart twisted, a sharp, shooting stab of agony...and guilt.

            Riddhima was right, he reflected, he did destroy the good in his life. He had put that anxious look in Shilpa's eyes, he was the reason she'd been worried all afternoon, why there were tears in her eyes and why she hadn't eaten. He had made her suffer, this sweet, loving, caring girl, who had already suffered enough in her short life.

            And that was when it hit him – it didn't matter what that sensation was whenever he was near her, he couldn't pursue it. Because no matter what it might be, he had no right to drag Shilpa further into his life. She needed to stay at a safe distance from him before she ended up another victim to his poison.

            I'm not going to hurt her anymore, he vowed. Whatever this is, whatever I felt last night and this morning, I have to push it to the side. We're friends, nothing more, nothing less. It's what's best for her.

            Nausea suddenly swept through his stomach and he had to choke it back down. Placing his fork on his plate, he pushed himself up from the table. Shilpa lifted her head, eyebrows arched quizzically.

            "I'm...I'm not very hungry," he stammered, just as Muskaan came padding back into the kitchen. He caught her eye and she frowned at him, suspicion glinting in her brown irises. "I think I need to go lie down for a while."

            "But, Armaan, you've not had anything to eat all day," Muskaan protested.

            "I'll eat later," he told her as he headed towards the door. "I promise."

            She didn't say anything, or if she did, he didn't hear. He was already out in the corridor and headed for the stairs. He bounded up them two-at-a-time and hurried into his room, slamming the door behind him. Releasing a breathe he didn't know he'd been holding, he slumped back against the door and stared up at the ceiling, waiting for the niggling ache deep within him to subside, unsure if it ever would.


I know there was not much ArSh interaction in this part. I hope you don't mind too much. This part was necessary for explaining Armaan's actions. Something important is gonna happen in the next part, so please bear with me. I will try to get it posted soon.


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Joined: 24 September 2009
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Posted: 06 June 2012 at 8:22am | IP Logged
res...what i am the 1st one...yes..yes.. yes...
and OMG u updated..thank u sooo much dear...i will comment once i get through the whole part  ...


Edited by roshni_A - 06 June 2012 at 8:24am

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