Chapter 22

Her hands trembled as she searched each and every corner of her room. Cupboard, every drawer , searched through the all the clothes, below the mattress, behind the bed, not even a single place that has not been searched by her.

Her eyes roamed frantically all around the room, desperate to find a clue, a proof , even a small proof against him. Prayers left her mouth constantly , hoping that she was not too late.

As if her prayers were heard ,her eyes caught the one place that she had not yet searched. Slowly walking towards her cupboard ,she stood on her toes, running a hand on the top of the it. She felt it , the end of the paper just grazed her fingertips. Streaching her hand as far as she could , she managed to bring the paper slowly towards herself and caught hold of it atlast.

Taking deep breaths, she stood with the papers in her hand and for a moment just stared at it.

A lone tear escaped her eye as she finished reading it, but there was a peace settled inside her heart.
Its time that she take the responsbilities that she has neglected for so long. She has to come out of her own world and face the truth –that is life.

“Why are you doing this..??” Arnav heard her speak as he turned to put the plate of food back on the table. It has yet not sunk to him that she is talking. Everytime he hear her voice it always gives him goosebumps, his heart picks up speed and he closes his eyes to absorb the feel of her voice as it fell to his ears and straight goes to his heart and spreads to his whole body.

He turned and looked at her questioning eyes.”I am doing what..??”

“You gave me your mother’s mangalsutra, kangans and you..you saved me..why..?? You should have let me die. Why did you save my life..?? I remember you shouting my name before it was all dark. You should have been happy that you are going to finally get rid of me and not save me.” Atlast she asked him all the things that he’s been doing.

In an instant he was next to her. He shook her as all the horrfying memories of that night flashed in front of him ,shaking him to the core.”I should have been happy..??” His eyes held disbelief as he said this.”Khushi if..if i had lost you that night, i would have followed you. Do you understand me. I would have not taken a single breath if you have been not in this world.”He tenderly cupped her face and asked in a desperate tone.”Why..why khushi why tried to take your life. You would have left you family alone here..?? You babuji..?? ”

She didn’t answered his question but asked one.”Why you would have followed me arnavji..?? You hate me.”

“I don’t hate you khushi. I never did. I would have followed you because i love you…”he placed her palm above his heart.”because it would have stopped beating without its other half.”

Her eyes lifted to his in utter disbelief.”You love me..?? ”

“I love you khushi. Please believe me. Please give me a chance to prove it to you.”He looked straight in her eyes praying that she could see the love in his eyes for her.

“You love me..”She repeated again and then there was it–the dhak dhak. She felt it. Her heart pounding in her chest and once again she felt alive.”Please say it again.” she pleaded him to once again feel her heart , to feel alive.

Her eyes , it was sparkling again, like they used to. She was coming back , his khushi was coming back to him.

He heard her plead to him to say it again, the words that he could continously say it every with breath he take. Gathering her in his arms, he whispered in her ears.”I love you..”he felt her shudder as his lips grazed the shell of her ear. His lips moved to her cheek. He said it again as he placed a kiss.”..I love you khushi..” Her small hands clutched his shirt in fist, her heart racing. She closed her eyes, her breathing heavy as felt his warm breath on her lips.

He paused just above her lips , giving her chance to back away if she want to. He felt her hands go around and clutch him from the back tightly. This was all he needed.
“I love you sweetheart..” he said before he gently placed his lips on her. He kissed her softly, it was his promise to her to never leave her, it was to reassure her that he love her, that he is very guilty about all the times he had hurt her.

They broke the kiss with khushi looking down, not able to look at him, her face red. This sight made arnav chuckle and tighten his hold on her. He placed a kiss on her forehead.”I love you always.”

Khushi put her head on his shoulder. She absorbed these words in heart. She ,after so many months is feeling something, she is feeling her old self after so long and she didn’t want this feeling to end. “Promise me..” she heard him say.

“Promise what…??” she asked.

“Promise me that you will never leave me..” She him shaking slightly as he took a raggered breath.”I will never leave you arnavji…i promise.”

Arnav relaxed , his head on the crook of her neck and he kissed her there and smiled as she responded to his touch by clutching him more
tightly.

“Lets go downstairs.” He said breaking the hug.

Khushi immediately shook her head, her eyes loosing its shine which was there few minuter ago.”Hey what happened…?? Don’t you want to meet everyone. They have missed you so much…missed their crazy khushi.”

He saw her eyes , they held betrayal. And again she shook her head.”Please can we stay here..??”

He just smiled and nodded at her. He know that there are many questions that has to be answered. Many things that he needs to say to her , many things that he need to know from her. But these things can wait. For now he just want to relish the feel of her in his arms. Want to enjoy the feeling of love that has enveloped them both. Be relieved that his khushi, his old crazy is coming back.

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Chapter 21

The sun rays made their way into the room through the space between the curtains announcing the arrival of a new day. Arnav stirred and squinted his eyes as the sun rays falling on his face disturbed his sleep.

He froze as he felt something crepting up towards her neck. He looked down and saw as khushi stirred in her sleep , digging her face more into his neck as her hand clutched his collor ,she exhaled and returned back to deep sleep.

His breath stopped ,as for the first time neither his mind nor his heart were able to believe what his eyes were seeing. He had khushi in his arms as she slept peacefully. He had visioned this million times but he knew that it would never become reality. Her fringe fell over her forehead making her eyes flutter slightly. Not wanting to wake her up, he gently moved her hair behind her ear.

Still not believing that this moment is real not his imagination or a dream ,he continued to stare her face with his heart chanting only thing with every heart beat.

I love you…

I love you…

I love you so much…

Over and over again…

Closing his eyes, he leaned forward ,pressed his lips on her forehead as his heart uttered.

I am so sorry…

She felt something soft pressed on her forehead and slowly opened her eyes to look into arnav’s eyes which were filled with love and guilt. She closed her eyes to snap out of whatever hallucinations her mind was conjuring as she knew her love would never be reciprocated. Arnav hates her! There would only be hate in his eyes for her. Never love! Never!

But another memory came, of him kneeling down in front of her and his hand clapsing her mother’s Payal on her ankels once again cofessing why he had her payal with him, of him filling her maang with sindoor and a soft whispher that came out from his mouth.

Forever…

Forever…

This word echoed in her ears forcing her mind to accept that that was reality not her imagination.

“Goodmorning. Are you ok khushi..??”

She heard him say and she felt the rumbling against her cheek that rose from his chest. When she raised her eyes to look up at him, she found her eyes glued at him or specifically at his lips. He was looking down with his lips curved into soft smile.

Her hand rose on its accord to trace his lips that was curved up with her fingers to make sure that he was real.

Everying stopped for arnav as soon as he felt the touch of her fingers and for khushi, her eyes locked with his as she felt the softeness of his lips and the words escaped her mouth.”You are here! You…You really are here!”

Arnav looked at her eyes filled with uncertainity and her voice clearly showing her doubt she has in the reality of him being with her. He closed his hand around her hand which was on his lips and placing a gentle kiss on her palm, he spoke in firm voice.”I am here khushi and i’ll always be here. With YOU!”

As his words registered in her mind and with it came the dream.

Everything was dark and there was no source of light. Her heart was thudding loudly. She had always been afraid of dark.

She called out the one person that had always saved her ever since he entered in her life.

“Arnav!!!” her voice shaking with fear. She whipped her head around praying that he will come for her rescue as he always had.

“ARNAV!!!” She screamed again more loudly this time.

She breathed a sigh of relief as she saw him. Arnav. But what she saw made her scream out loud in absolute terror.

She saw arnav, his eyes brimmed with pain and guilt and his shirt red from blood. She saw him backing away from her and heard him.”I am sorry khushi.”

Running towards him, arm stretched she screamed for her life.”ARNAV!!!!” and the next moment she found her enclosed in his arms as he assured her that it was just a nightmare.

The dream felt as real as it could. Terried to hell, she threw herself more at him constantly murmering.”You..you are safe. Nothing happened to you.” Backing away slightly she ran her hands on his body.His abdomen, his chest and his face, reassuring herself that he is safe, that nothing happened to him. He is in front of her safe and sound.

Arnav realised that she was talking about the dream that she had last night. Desperate to calm her, he wound his arm around her, his hands rubbing her up and down to sooth her.”Shh calm down khushi. I am safe. Nothing happened to me. It was just dream. Relax.” He felt her breathing getting regular as she clutched him more tightly. He continued to rub her back and dropped a kiss on her hairs with a thought haunting his mind.’Why is she concerned me? ME? Why?’

After sometime he gently untangled himself from her. Standing up he leaned down and swept her up saying.”You should shower now. You can stand on your own no..?? Or i could fill the tub..” he stopped as he realised what he was about to say. Images flashed in front of his eyes.

Tub filled with blood…

Her blood…

Quickly correcting himself he said.”..or i could call payal for your help.”

His heart jumped in joy when she shook her head in denial.”No.”

He gently made her stand on the floor in front of the bathroom door still not leaving her hands. “Could you please leave the door unlocked. Please. If in case you won’t be able stand on your own then i could call payal for you. ”

She nodded and dispeared inside the bathroom closing the door but not locking it.

The time she took inside the bathroom were the most painful for arnav. There was a feart in him that she could try to take her life again but the sound of the shower and the thing that there was nothing sharp inside relaxed him a bit but then also he had fear in his heart.

Relief, immense relief that was what he felt when he heard the sound of opening of the door and looked up to see her walking out of the bathroom, her hair wet clinging to her cheeks and neck. She is so beautiful.

Grabbing the towel that lay on the bed, he strode towards her. Holding her wrist he led her towards the dressing table and made her
sit on the chair. He stood behind her gently started drying her wet hairs. He knew that she was staring at him from the mirror but he kept her down, he just want her to believe that this all real.

Once her hair dried,he dropped the towel on the recliner. Grabbing the small pot from the table, he took a pinch of sindoor and filled her maang with it.

He made sure that he was looking in her in the mirror all the while. He opened one drawer and took out mangalsutra. Slowly he brought it to her neck and clasped it around her neck.”Its of my mother khushi. She told me to give it to my wife when i’ll fall in love with her.” he confessed indirectly that he is in love with her.

Kneeling in front of her, he took her wrist in his hands and traced the marks of the cut on them. His heart clenched at the sight of them as doctor’s words came into his mind.

The cuts are very deep as though she didn’t want herself to be saved.

Shoving away the memory at the back of his mind, he took his mother’s
bangels and slid them in her hands effectively hiding the cut marks on her wrist.”…you know when i first made you wear them, i felt as though ma is now very happy, that her bangels got the right owner atlast.”

He looked up in her eyes and saw confusion and denial in them but he swore that he will remove this confusion from her eyes and make her believe that everything is real, that he is real.

Chapter 20

Everybody on the dining table were unnaturally quite. Tension hung in the air of the house. As if something bad had occured last night. Not that the day succeding that horrible night have been normal but today it felt the darkness have made its way to the deep in the house. Nk, who had tried to maintain light atmosphere in this house with his jokes and wrong hindi, was sitting quiet on the table playing with his food. He was not the only who had lost his appetite this morning. It was same with anjali and payal, while others were forcing the morsels of food down their throat.

All were busy in their thoughts but their thought process halted as they listened to the sound that the house have been devoid off from many days.

Chhan…

Chhan…

Every head on the table turned towards the stairs and every pair of eyes froze at what they saw.

They can’t believe their eyes. Khushi was walking very slowly downstairs with arnav supporting her by shoulders.

Chhan…

Chhan…

They heard it again. Nk was the first one to
recover from the shock. Pushing the chair back , he stood up and strode towards the stairs with everyone following behind him except payal. She was too shocked to see her sister like this, that she didn’t want to move or blink lest it comes out to be her hallucination.

Arnav indicated everyone to behave normal with his eyes. He want to make her feel normal in the house like before that nothing has changed, everything is same.

Nk understood what he wants to do, so he stepped forward as they descended down the last step and wore his charming smile one his face and greeted khushi.

“Khushiji ,aayiye aayiye. You know your favourite aaloo puri have been made. I can sniff its delicious smell also. We were waiting for you. I am very hungry, lets go and have breakfast.” he rubbed his hand on his stomach.

Arnav took towards the dining table and sat her down on the chair. Sitting on the chair next to her he was about to make her plate when payal said.”Arnavji..i..i will make her plate.” arnav
nodded as he know how she must be feeling now.

Payal filled her plate all the while holding back her tears and handed it to arnav. Khushi never looked at anyone even for once, her eyes were down all the time but when arnav took her name softly, she looked at him and he started to feed her while she ate silently.

At some point to she didn’t open her mouth to eat. When he thought she wasn’t hungry any more and was about to pick the glass of water for her, she slightly pushed the plate towards him, silently asking him to eat.

His heart filled with joy at same with pain seeing her so concerned about him when he did nothing but to hurt her and.. No! Don’t think about that now. Just think about khushi. She’s slowly coming out , is now becoming normal. Thats what matter the most.

He took a morsel and ate it. Next he feed her and like this they finished their breakfast. He leaned towards Nk and whispered in his ears.”Where is shyam..??”

“He is out of town again. Let khushiji stay down
Only. He will not be here.” Nk whispered back.

Standing up, arnav bent forward sliding his arm around her shoulder he urged her to stand up.”Come. We’ll sit in the living room.” He held her hand, which clutched tightly and stoop up slowly.

She sat on the sofa with payal next to her.

But when arnav tried to leave her she held his wrist tightly not letting him go. He put her hand on his thigh squeezed it slightly, reassuring her that he is not leaving her.

Everybody tried to talk to her but she remained slient, not responding to them. Some hours later her medicine kicked in her system and she slowly rested her head on arnav’s shoulder. He let her be like that until she was deep in sleep.

“I am taking her up in the room. ” he scooped her up in his arms taking care not to disturb her sleep. He proceeded towards the stairs not before signaling NK to follow him.

After settling her on the bed, he moved towards the poolside with NK. He turned towards Nk after closing the door.

He looked straight at Nk Nk and said.”I don’t want Shyam in this house. He should not enter in this house, i cannot let him be near her.”

“Don’t worry it will be done. But till when..?? What you would say to di about his absence. You should tell her nannav. She deserve to know about him.” NK questioned him.

Arnav sighed. He was tired of hiding this from di. As much as he want to tell her everything ,everytime the thought of her unborn child stops him. He couldn’t risk her life.

“I want to Nk. I very badly want to. But di is pregnant NK , i can’t take that risk. It will be too dangerous. She will not be able to take it.” Arnav spoke his helplessness clear on his face.

NK placed his hand on his shoulder and said.”I will say one thing nannav. Don’t take di’s pregnancy as her weakness, but the strength with which she will be able to face the truth and would be able to live her life for her unborn child. Think about it.” Nk left arnav deep in thought.

Arnav stood at the poolside gazing at the ripples of water Forming in the pool by the morning breeze. He couldn’t take any decision. There was too much at risk. Di will not be able handle the truth, then shyam is a dangerous man, if his real face would be exposed than he could do any harm to anyone and he can’t let that happen. Khushi is too vulnerable, if shyam tries to harm her. No! He could never let that happen. There is too much of a risk. Shyam’s game will end but not now. I will end him at right time.

The rest of the day went well, khushi with arnav’s support walked around the house, saw her jiji making food in the kitchen.Nani feeding lakshmi green leaves and hariprakash runnin around the house doing various chores.

Arnav was resting on the chair on the poolside. Leaning his head back ,he closed his eyes, listening to the sound of leaves of the his plants ruffling as the cool night breeze passed by him. He inhaled deeply as the cool breeze carressed his face, making him feel refreshed, letting his mind to stop his thought process For a moment. The peace was broken by khushi’s shriek.

ARNAV!!!!!!!!!

He ran inside the room and saw her sitting on the bed with horror struck eyes as she stared into emptiness, sweting profusely. Rushing towards he hugged her. Trying to normalise her rapid breathing. He rubbed her back sothing her, calming her as he continously murmered in her ears.”Shh i am here.. I am here khushi.” She clung to him tightly, her fingers gripping his shirt from the back.

After sometime her breathing got normal and he pulled back to look at her face. “Khushi what happened..?? Tell me. Why were you so scared. Saw a bad dream..??” he wiped her tears gently and caressed her hairs.

Not saying anything she buried her face in his chest and hugged him tighty.

“Hey its ok. I am here. Don’t be scared. I am here.” he murmered softly and laid down on bed gently and patted her head.

He was to stand up when he saw her breathing deeply but she clutched his wrist stopping him. “Khushi i…”
She tugged his Hand bringing him down on bed beside her. She rested her head on his shoulder, draping an arm over his torso. He hugged her close to him and closed his eyes, not believing that he is holding khushi in his arms as she slept. He soon drifted of to sleep as his heart was finally at piece, holding his love close to his heart.

Chapter 19

The sound of the raindrops Pelting down on the glass of french windows was the only sound in the room. Once this silence was what arnav have wanted, have always asked for. But as he looked at khushi, he just only want to hear her voice that has the power to calm his nerves instantly. His heart ached to see her chattering away without any worry like she always have done before.

Before…

This word sent a shot of mind numbing pain in his heart. He closed his eyes as he leaned his head back against the head board of the bed. Please come back to me khushi. His heart pleaded silently.

The next second his eyes flew open. Not daring to move an inch. He stayed as still as he could before very slowly he turned his head to look at his hand which have been captured by her in sleep. His eyes travelled upwards to look at her face. Her eyes closed, a serene calm look setteled on her face as she slept peacefully.

Arnav released the breath which he was holding unknowingly until he saw that she was
Sleeping. He so badly had hoped that she held his hand knowingly, although he knew that cannot happen. Why would she do that..?? When she had not even an inch all the time she has been awake. But his heart had thuded madly and had hoped silently.

He gently held her hand in his, reassuring himself for the nth time that she is alive, that she is safe. He sat staring at her face for a long. Tracing her every feature with his eyes, but he stopped as he noticed the obvious thing which he should have know all this time. He knew what he have to do when she would wake up.

He closed his eyes again and listened to the pelting of the rain on the glass. Its sound lessening the ever present pain in his heart. Gradualy it the rain changed into light drizzle and finally stopped, with it the pain in his hear resurfaced.

NK’s words rang in his mind.
‘Prove to me that you are not arnav malik…’ ,causing him to tighten his hold on her hand. She stirred slighty making him to look at her. He saw her Open her eyes slowly and look directly in their entwined hands. Her gaze lifted up to his and he stared right back at her. His saw her eyes, they were not blank. She had come out of her shell a little and this was enough to make his heart beat in a dangerous speed as a wave of relief flushed through him. She is still there. He had not lost her.

He lifted his other hand and placed it on her cheek. Grazing her cheek with his thumb he smiled softly at her and asked.”Had a nice sleep..??” He sighed at not getting an answer.

Wounding her arms around his neck, he gently lifted her in his arms and stepped out of the bed. Entering the poolside, he gently placed her on the chair. Rain has stopped but cold winds were still blowing. He saw her shudder as the cold breeze touched her skin. “I’ll come back in a minute.” he said before disappering inside the room.

He came back with a shawl. He wrapped it around her to save her from the cold before he kneeled down in front of her on one leg.

He very well know it has happened before also and she will also remember that and the pain that he gave her that night ,but he had to do it , for her. He placed her left leg on his knee before he pulled out one payal…her mother’s payal from his pocket. He remembered di handling them to him in a plastic bag yesterday night.

It was removed from her in the hospital. Before leaving, di had informed him that they are stained in blood and she as much as tried to wash them, she was not able to , she didn’t have the strength.

He washed them carefully with a aching heart, with water mixed with his tears. Her mother’s payal was stained with her blood. He felt sick with himself. She was not able bear to see a small cut on him and he ,the heartless person he was ,had been the reason for her to drain out her blood to death.
He felt her leg getting stiff. He gently clapsed the payal around her ankle. Placing her leg back on the ground ,he lifted her right leg and placed on his knee before
Clapsing the other payal around her ankle, all the while keeping his eyes lower.

Bending forward he rested his forhead against her knee, willing his racing heart to slow down. He didn’t know what would he see when he’ll look at her eyes but before that he have to tell her something.

“You have asked me before that why i had kept your payal with me.” he started quietly.”but i didn’t gave you the answer. Khushi i had your payal with me not only on that night but it had been in my pocket with me from the time i found it. I had kept your payal with me all the time because..” he raised his head to look at her eyes brimming with tears.”it made feel close to you when you were not around me.”

He held her gaze wanting her to know that he’s speaking the truth. He stood up as he removed her lep from his knee.”I am sorry khushi. I should have done this before, but in other things i didn’t notice.” he said slowly.

Pulling out the red box, he placed it in his left palm and opened it. With the index finger and thumb of his right hand, he took a pinch from the box.

Keeping his eyes on hers, he gently filled her maang with sindoor.”Forever” he whispered. A tear escaped from the corner of her eye, he gently brushed it off. His heart bleed seeing her in so much pain. “I am very sorry khushi. Please come back . Please..i beg you ,don’t do this to yourself.” he pleaded in horse voice, his eyes moist.

For the second time she averted her eyes from him. His heart clenched in pain. Cupping her face in his palms he placed a gentle kiss on her forhead. “I love you” he said in his heart.

“Lets get you inside. Its getting cold here.” he forwarded his hand to her wanting her to stand by herself. She didn’t move. “You will walk to the room khushi.” he said as he pulled her up by her arms. He held her shoulders and urged her to walk forward. “Khushi take a step forward slowly.”
She took a step but wobbled slightly and held his arm on a reflex. He immediately held her tighter.
“Hold on to me. I will not let you fall ever.” he promised to her and she looked at him and tighten her hold on him.

He slowly took her inside the room and laid her down on the bed. He sat next to her and ran his fingers through her hair. Her eyes started drooping and she slept. He continued running his hand through her till sleep enveloped him. He slept with his hand on her head.

Chapter 18

It was time for the truth to come out of the depths of lies which were woven by the shrewd Arnav Singh Raizada. Those lies were spoken by ASR but the man that stood in front of NK ,ready to admit his crimes was not ASR . He was his younger brother arnav who was hidden behind the facade of the brutal, heartless, cruel ASR. Now time for revealations arrived. There no backing out.

They both stood staring into eacth others eyes aware of each others thoughts. Nk broke the silence that settled around them.”Why..??” Nk questioned him in a very low quite voice.

“I saw them on the terrace.” arnav answered for the first time not trying to hide the guilt he was feeling.

“It doesn’t prove any..”

“He held her in his arms confessing his love for her.” arnav cut him off.

“Then why didn’t you confronted her or him or even tell everything to di..??” Nk asked through clenched teeth.

“I confronted him. He confessed to me that they love each other and di was only between them. I was going to tell everthing to di but couldn’t.” arnav looked up to NK from the pool .”She told me she was pregnant.”

Nk’s eyes widen slight as the thought stuck him”When you saw them together..??”

“14th feb. Akash and payal’s marriage night.” arnav looked away as he saw Nk’s accusing eyes.

Nk never felt this angry in his life. He now knew the reason behind their hasty marriage. He had doubts but it was all now confimed.”You mean on your marriage day. So you confronted her on that night and–”

Arnav shook his head” No i never confronted her that night. I blackmailed her in marrying me.”

“How..??” His voice came strained due to supressing his anger.

“I threatned her to break payal akash’s marriage .” arnav couldn’t look in his eyes.

“and…???” he stressed.

“I..i”

Nk’s control snapped, he pushed arnav back against the wall ,grabbing his collar, his face few inches away from him.”You, Arnav Singh Raizada better speak or i don’t know what i’ll do.”

Arnav did nothing. He knew he was at fault and deserve every bit of this.”I forced her to marry me for six months.” arnav felt sharp pain in his jaw. He looked up to see seething NK who had punched him.

Nk pulled him from collar and hissed “Six months..?? Six months contract marriage and doesn’t even know the reason behind your pathetic contract…w. ..wait…wait a minute.”Nk stilled all of a sudden as a thought struck his mind.”Don’t tell me arnav that you told her everything on that day…??”

When arnav stood silently he was beyond furious.”IS. THAT. WHY. SHE .TRIED. TO TAKE. HER .LIFE.” He asked, punchuated each word.

“Yes.”After what seemed like eternity arnav replied looking into Nk’s eyes with moist eyes.

With a jerk Nk pushed him back and took several steps away from him, looking at arnav with disgust ,hurt and disappointment.”Today you proved me wrong Arnav and those people right. They were right, you are a heartless bas***d. How foolish was i to think that you loved her.”

“I love her Nk , i always have.” arnav said in pained voice.

“You love her..?? This is your love..?” he said pointing towards his room where khushi was.

“I am not justifying my actions Nk, but that night i followed her to the terrace to confess to her that i love her and believe or not i have loved her from a very long time.”arnav tried make him believe that he love her.

Nk laughed humourlessly.”Oh that what was i thought when i came here arnav, otherwise what you think why i have flirted with her.” Seeing arnav shocked faced he explained.”To make you jealous so that you realise what you feel about her, that you love her because i was sure that your thick head would never let you believe what your heart felt. But i was wrong. You never loved her, if you have then she would not be here like this.”

Arnav felt himself drowing the river of guilt. He felt suffocated.”Nk atleast you understand me. I feel suffocated that i have done to her , to the girl i love. Please let me pour it out of me ,i am not able to breath NK every time i
see her like this.”arnav said brokenly

Nk eyes soften slighty looking at his broken state.”Tell me why you never asked her about it..??” Nk asked stiffly.

“After di’s accident i was very much shaken from inside. She is the only one who was always with me. The thought of loosing her scared the hell out of me. Then what i heard from khushi on the terrace shattered my heart.”

“What she said..??” Nk asked

“She asked shyam to leave di if he didn’t love her and after that shyam confirmed my suspicion that they are having affair. I was affraid if di because of shyam’s betrayal would do something drastic, that she will also leave me…like ma.”

Arnav eyes said it all ,the helpness he would have felt that moment.”But i didn’t realise that khushi was trying to protect di when she asked him to leave di.”

Nk stood in front of arnav, looking straight into his eyes said.”Your bas***d father was the reason behind the distruction that happened 14 year before and now also because of him you are
like this, because of him you don’t trust anyone but do you realise that you have become just like the father whom you hate so much, that you like your father ,could have become the murderer of your wife, that like you like your bloody father have driven your wife to take her life.” Nk yelled at him.

Arnav pushed him not able to listen to him anymore.”STOP!!” he yelled “I am anything but my fath..that man. I can never be like him. Do you understand Nandkishore Malhotra.” he said through clenched teeth , eyes red with rage.

Nk took a step towards him”It dosen’t seem like this to me. Everthing you have done to that girl proves that you are every bit of what your father was.” He took a deep breath to calm himself.”Prove to me that your not your father, that you are not Arnav Malik but Arnav Singh Raizada.” he took another step towards him.”and mind you Arnav Malik that the day you married her she became my sister and who better than you could know the protectiveness of a brother towards his sister. ” He warned arnav.

“She is my wife Nk and i will prove to you that i love her and i am NOT Arnav Malik , I am not Suraj Malik. ” His eyes shone with determination and love for his khushi.

“You better be and i hope so Arnav…i hope so.” Nk left from there.

Neither of them noticed the shadow lurking on the terrace stairs above them.

Chapter 17

Nandkishore Malhotra a.k.a NK has always been jovial and charming man who believe to enjoy each and every moment of his life fully and to make sure that the people around him be always happy and have a smile on their faces even if he have to make fun of himself in front of others by speaking wrong hindi in his autrailian accent or by presenting himself as a fool. He believed he could make anyone smile but that was until he met his cousin Arnav Singh Raizada.

His parents have come to india in a rush as they heard about the horrible tragedy that had taken place in Mausi’s sister in law’s house. He was happy to know that he will be able to visit india and be able to see his lovely anjali di’s wedding whom he never met or talked to but has always heard from akash about how loving his di is and he already began to love her but his bubble of happiness of meeting anjali di on her marriage burst as his parents apologised of not being able to attend the wedding to Mausi and Shelja aunty due to
heavy work load but on di’s marriage day his parents informed that they were going india on that night . His child brain made the obvious assumption that they were going to meet anjali di atleast after her wedding to congratulate her and the family but he got the shock of his life as his mother told him very calmly why anjali di’s marriage never happened and that their parents were dead. She hide the suicide part for obvious reasons from him.

He could never forget the sight of a numb anjali di in her bridal wear siting next to two dead bodies covered with white cloth.

Mausa arguing with a man at the corner, mausi trying her best to console a broken nani and his mother trying her best to bring anjali di out of the shock when he entered sheesh mahal for the first time. He found akash who sat with a boy who he recognised was his cousin arnav. He saw arnav devoid of any emotion. His face was blank . No pain , anguish, sorrow reflecting on his face. He was like a stone but as he look at
Arnav eyes his insides shook. He saw rage, murderous rage, hurt of betrayal, and immense pain residing in his eyes which were devoid of tears.

Nk just sat beside arnav in silence. He realised that arnav was not even aware of his or even akash’s presence beside him who was trying hard to make him say something from a long time and he was staring at that man with whom mausaji were arguing. Nk had no idea of what he should say to the person he never met so he just sat in silence with arnav.

After that day his parents and him were staying at mauji’s house for some days when one day naniji and mausaji brought arnav and anjali di in a very bad condition in the house. Naniji was crying heavily clutching anjali di’s hand who was supported by arnav. Later he got to know that the man with whom mausaji had been arguing was arnav’s chacha and he threw arnav and anjali out of the house some days back and they were suffering on the roads.

It was clear to every one that arnav was very protective of anjali but that day Nk felt a new emotion inside him. He felt protective of arnav who was presenting himself very strong but inside he was hurting very badly and was very vulnerable. He became very protective of his brother arnav, yes brother not cousin, who was 1 year younger than him and that time he become a protective big brother.

During his stay in india Nk tried to befriended with arnav but arnav always got angry or irritated with him. Nk irritated him to no end but he knew his brother too liked to get irritated by him and Nk was satisfied with that because both knew that it was just their unique way to intract and they like each others company very much.
They had a very unique bond which was not visible to others and they never felt the need to show others or to each other but they new it in their heart.

Nk came out of past as he stumbled on shyam on his way. Straightning himself he apologised.”Oh sorry jijaji. You okay..??”

“Its ok Nk bhai. I am fine” shyam replied in his
usual honey dripped voice which made nk cringe inwardly as for the first time he realised how fake his looked.

Wanting to confirm his doubts nk stopped shyam as he was about to go.”So jijaji how was trip..?? The work got completed for which you have to go to lucknow so suddenly..??”

“It was good nk bhai.” shyam replied the smile intact on his face. “The work cannot be delayed. It was very important.” Nk saw a maniac glint in his eyes as he said that.”So have to leave urgently otherwise i would have never left khushiji..um all the family in this state.”

“Its ok jijaji. Every one have each other for the support and ofcourse all the familiy members are there for khushiji specially nannav but di needed your support at that time.” Nk said casually but he didn’t miss the slip of the smile from shyam’s face for a second at the mention of arnav and khushi together.

“But saale sahab have work how would he be able to take care of khushiji. Work always came first for him” shyam said.

“Wrong jijaji. Khushiji comes first for nannav not work. He loves khushiji so much. Everybody in the can see that. ” Nk said chearfully.

Shyam felt anger inside him rising at dangerous level listening to saale sahab’s fake love for khushiji. Not able to listen to this more he excused himself.”Nk bhai excuse me i have to go.” saying that he left.

Nk noticed shyam anger at the mention of nannan’s love for khushiji. His doubts just got strong and now he have to confirm them from nannav.

When Nk entered arnav’s room he saw payal already in the room waiting impatiently for arnav to finish feeding khushi.

Arnav stoop up from the bed and was surprised to see Nk in the room. He knew payal would be here to talk to him after shyam’s arrival but one look at Nk and understood everything.

“Arnavji i want to talk to you” payal said. Nk looked towards her confused.

“Nk lock the door.” said arnav , turning towards payal he replied before she could say anything.”Nk will also be there.”

Payal was slighty apprehensive but nodded. Arnav walked towards the poolside ,Nk and payal following behind. Closing poolside door he turnem towards them.

“Arnavji i am worried about khushi, he is back. Please do something. I cannot let anything happen to my sister.” payal voice was filled with worry for her sister.

“Who is back..?? Who want to hurt khushiji…??” Nk enquired. Arnav smiled slightly ,he knew that nk was aware about whom they were talking.

“Tell him payal.” arnav said.

Payal looked at him for a second then replied.”Sh..shyamji.”

Nk look at arnav who was already staring at him. His doubts were confirmed. He was right shyam has a role in this but why would he want to harm khushiji.

“Jijaji..?? Why would he want to hurt khushiji..??” Nk asked.

“Tell him everything payal.” arnav said.

As payal started to tell him everything nk just stared at arnav. He was confused if shyam was reason behind khushiji’s suicide attempt then why arnav told him that he was the reason behind khushiji’s state. Was he blaming himself for not being able to protect her or could it be…?? Damn you arnav!

After payal narrated the whole story arnav ressured her.”Payal he cannot do anything. I will always be there with khushi and if not then make sure you or Nk should there with her. She should not be alone even for a second. We cannot let shyam know that i or nk know about him , so behave normally.” payal agreed but nk was just waiting for a moment to be alone with arnav.”Now you should leave payal, we cannot let him get suspicious.”

Payal left. Arnav looked at nk and said.”You must have many questions to ask me nk.”

“You bet Arnav Singh Raizada.”

Chapter 16

Many days flew by with arnav taking care of khushi all the time. He was determined to bring khushi out of the shell, out of the darkness that was not allowing her see the people who care about her,who loves her , who are in pain watching her like this. It hurts’ it hurts so much to see her like this. It have been so many days since he heard her voice, heard her calling his name. Arnavji…she is the first person who had ever called him this. He was ASR in business world, chote for di ,nani and mami ,bhai for akash but he was never anyones arnavji. Khushi is first to call him this and he will always be her arnavji..always hers and he is dying to hear his name in her melodious voice.

Nani and anjali were feeling different emotions. They were worried about khushi but at the same time they were surprised and happy to see their arrogant chote taking care of khushi with so much sincerity, watching his determination to bring back his wife. Atlast their chote fell in love and is not scared to
show his feelings, to bare his heart. He found his home, he found his love, found his soulmate. They were also scared thinking of the reason behind khushi trying to take her life. They all knew that something had happened between arnav and khushi during their stay at gupta house but could it be so worse that khush found its solution in ending her life..?? They just hope that their khushi comes back to them very soon.

Arnav stood in his bathroom in front of mirror and looked at himself. He couldn’t even recognise the person in front him. He had grown beard on his face, dark patches below his eyes were clearly visible, he looked years older and he was a complete mess.

He nowhere nearly looked arnav singh raizada. He is arnav, a husband in pain, who is burning in the fire lit by his own hands, who wants to seek forgiveness, who want to repent, who want to show love of his life what she meant to him.

Arnav started shaving his beard mechanically, lost in thoughts of his wife.
He suddenly hissed in pain as the blade cut his skin and blood started oozing out of the cut. He rammaged through the cabinate but couldn’t find the first aid box. ‘HP must have forgot to put it her’ he thought. Deciding to get it from di he hurried out of the bathroom yelling for his di momentorily forgetting about khushi sleeping on the bed. As he realised what he had done he turned to look at khushi who staring at him. It was nothing new as she would only stare at him but this he caught something in her usually blank eyes. She was staring at a particular place on his face. ‘but she always stare into my eyes.’ he thought counfusedly. Lifting his hand to the cheek she was staring at he placed his hand on the cut and hissed in pain and saw her moving her fingers and her browes furrowed not able to see his pain. It was then he realised that she had been staring at the cut.

“Chote” anjali called him as she walked in the room saw arnav staring at khushi.”chote what happened..??”

She asked hurriedly.

“Nothing di. I just need first aid box.”he said not taking his away from khushi.

Anjali saw the cut on his cheek.”HP please bring the first aid box.”

Hp brought the first aid box. Taking it anjali made arnav to sit on the recliner and began applying the anticeptic on the cut. Arnav stared at khushi all this time and saw her pained expression whenever he hissed in pain, saw her moving her fingers. He couldn’t believe she was showing emotions.

Her eyes were not blank there was concern in them for him.

Anjali left after applying the anticeptic on his cut telling him to be careful. Arnav behaved as if he didn’t notice her movements as he couldn’t take the risk of her getting back to the shell. He stoop up taking the first aid box in his hand turned around when he heard it.

He froze.

His heart stopped beating then jumped up started beating dangerously fast.

He couldn’t believe what he heard.

Was he imagining it?

But it was there. He heard it no matter how much
Feeble the sound was. He knew her voice. He had craved for it to hear.

“Arn…”

Yes it was her voice. She called him. She said his name. He was sure of it.

Slowly turning around he prayed that it should not be his imagination. He saw her eyes and knew he was not imagining. In a second he was next to her holding her face in his hand.

“Khushi..please talk to me. I know you said my name. Please say something. Anything.”he requested her his eyes moist.”Please khushi..your silence is killing me khushi. “he pleaded to her desperately.

She said nothing just continue to stare at his cut. He held her hand and placed it on his cheek. He felt it. Her finger moved lightly around his cut. He closed his eyes feeling her touch.

Opening his eyes and looking at her he shook his head slighty.”Its not paining.” placing her palm above his heart he whispered.”It is. Its hurting a lot.”

For the first time she looked away from him. He felt her hand move back . Placing a kiss on her palm he placed
it on the bed.”I will bring you out of this shell no matter what and its my promise to you khushi.” He moved towards the bathroom to freshen up. With renewed strength to bring back his love to him ,he had many things to do.

Arnav walked downstairs when he heard that voice and fury like he felt never before filled his entire being. There he was shayam manohar jha sat on the dining table with his family enjoying everyone fussing over him. Arnav stood at the bottom step jaw clenched, eyes red with fury ,his whole body stiff .

Nk saw him and said.”Nannav come here. Take the plate i had put all the food according to khushiji’s diet.”

Shyam looked at him and smiled his sickening sweet smile.”Saale sahab. How are you and how is khushiji..??”

Arnav took the plate from NK turned around saying “I am fine ” and walked upstairs lest he kill him then and there.

Shyam smirked inwardly and next moment asked with fake concern.”Is saale sahab alright. Rani sahiba..?” he turned to look at anjali.

Nani answered him.”Damadji he is just tensed about khushi bitiya thats all.”

“I understand nani. I am also worried about khushiji.. I mean we all are.” shyam said symphatheticaly.

Everybody got busy with their food. Nobody noticed arnav glaring at shyam with murderous rage , him holding the plate in a death grip, nobody noticed anjali’s strange behaviour, how she was not pampering her husband who returned after so many days as she would have done usually , the far away look in her eyes, nobody noticed…except Nk. Nobody noticed payal murdering her food, as she stopped breathing when arnav came, the tightening of the grip of her hand on the fork till her knuckles turned white whenever shyam spoke of khushi, not noticed her shallow breathing to control her anger, nobody noticed… except akash.