“Okay, out with it … What the hell was that?” Aman’s harsh voice broke the silence.
A furious Aman had dragged a near-hysterical Khushi out of the party and they were sitting in a secluded corner on the red-carpeted steps outside Sheesh Mahal.
Khushi, still trying to come to terms with what had just happened sat silently, a part of her wondering what Arnav would do now. A giggle escaped her trembling lips as she saw him returning to the party with a swollen upper lip! Her eyes met Aman’s and the hysterical laughter died as she saw herself cornered into giving him an answer. She knew Aman was not going to drop the topic till he got everything out of her.
“I saw him yesterday too at our function”, Aman admitted. “And he was none to happy looking at you there too. Don’t think I did not notice you disappeared and returned all flustered and red.” “What’s happening, Kay?” his gentle use of her special pet name for her must have been the undoing. All the bravado just vanished and Khushi tired of all the stressing about Arnav, not being able to share her feelings with anyone, just broke down.
She found herself sobbing uncontrollably into Aman’s jacket front, as he gathered her in his arms, patting her hair gently. Letting her take all the misery of the past few months out of her system. In a babble of words she told him all about how she met Arnav, her job at his company, training La and how he had been tormenting and insulting her since then. Of course, Aman need not know the effect Arnav’s proximity also had on her, she silently thought to herself. That was something she would never admit to anyone even if they physically wrung it out of her.
“He thinks I am a small town girl with huge aspirations of making money any which way, with no scruples at all,” Khushi retorted, her anger at ASR returned once her emotions were spent.
She did not notice a worried Aman, watching the play of emotions on her face silently, while letting her rant on about her feelings.
And they both, cuddled together on the steps, they did not notice a rigid figure, nursing his swollen lip, watching them from one of the upper balconies. His enraged black eyes, noticing sharply the way she was comfortably gathered into Romeo’s chest; the way he had one arm around her shoulder and the other gently removing the locks from her face, tucking them behind those delectable ears. Somewhere behind that fierce anger, Arnav felt another upsetting emotion that made him angrier. “No one touches her like that!” he roared to himself. “No one touches MY Khu…” He stopped shocked at his train of thoughts. What was he thinking? What was he doing? He was Arnav Singh Raizada. The writer of his own destiny. What ever happened in his life, happened because he made it happen. And all that he had achieved was because he had locked up useless things like emotions and feelings, as they only came in the way of his success.
Lost in his thoughts he did not notice a pair of hand creeping around his waist from behind and a sultry whisper in his ear … “ASR”…
Lavanya! I don’t need this now, he thought annoyed with her clinging. He sharply turned and walked back into his room with her following him whining on about nani and god knows what else!
“You want to leave?” Aman asked Khushi gently, when her tearful outburst has abated. “No.” Khushi thought about Babuj and the others inside, and decided against making a scene. After all, wasn’t that the aim – to be nonchalant for jiji’s sake. “Let’s go back, I am okay now” … “and Aman” she stopped him with her hand on his arm … “thanks”, she added with a shy smile.
“Oh Kay… Kay…”, Aman laughed gathering her into a hug once again. “You and I need to talk about this when the wedding is over… there is more to this than meets the eye, and I…” Khushi stopped him, by giving him a pleading ‘don’t-say-it’ look. Shrugging his shoulders and thinking ‘WOMEN’ for the nth time since he had landed in Lucknow, Aman followed Khushi back into the lawns to look for Babuji and the others.
After that the evening passed in a blur for Khushi. By the end she had a splitting headache – thinking constantly of Arnav; how to avoid him; being careful not to run into him, and constantly aware of his eyes following her where ever she went. Thankfully, her family surrounded her and along with Aman, she felt secure sitting within their group where Arnav could not reach her.
Khushi, noticed Aman also looking a bit distracted later in the evening as he kept fidgeting with his cell phone now and then. I’m being selfish, she chided herself. He wanted to speak to me about his own problems, and I piled on all of mine on him, without thinking of him at all. She felt guilty and promised herself, that she would try her best to see that her friend gets connected with his soul mate… the idea brought a naughty smile on her face … which was not missed from across the lawns by the ever watchful eyes.