His hand darted out from under the covers, leaving the warmth of the soft, velvety blanket behind ..Reaching out to shut down the alarm clock that was beeping continuously and was thus breaking the serene morning silence.
opening his eyes reluctantly,he took a minute or two for stretching his highly lethargic body.
An early morning meeting’s always a pain in the ass and Arnav Singh Raizada here was no such exception to that. A piece of advice he had got from his Manohar Mama while he was taking baby steps in his career, Always put your own comforts behind if you want to be a successful business mogul. Since then,he had sticked to that small but effective advice faithfully and garnered its fruitful results in the time that followed..still at the end of the day,a successful tycoon is a human too..with very ‘normal’ wishes just like this one..5 more minutes before leaving the bed, a chilly windy breeze than a conditioned air, a relaxing sunday at home than attending those lavish business parties, a home cooked meal than those ‘5 star’ labelled extravagant dishes, someone to greet you cheerfully after a packed day at office and with that last thought , he felt his attention automatically turning towards khushi sleeping beside him.
His gaze darted sideways at her form, sleeping carelessly like a baby, clutching the fistful of blankets in her palms, her long thick curls scattered around the pillow, her face that was devoid of any hint of makeup, yet shining with a glitter of its own, her lips curled into a very small smile, her cheeks displaying a faint blush which left him wondering what she was dreaming of. His fingers with a mind of its own, traveled the distance and push one of the lock from her face and tucked it carefully behind her ears..doing which felt to him as the most natural thing in the world.
Sleeping in a taiqwando like pose, occupying almost half of the bed compared to her petite form, a slow smile perched on his lips looking at the cute picture that khushi had formed in front of him.
So different from that weak and shattered khushi that had broke in his arms few weeks back..one who had cried her heart out, one who had masked her vulnerable self to put a brave front for the sake of others, one who had thought of licking her wounds alone. Those memories only were capable of gripping his heart with a sudden pang of guilt or whatever this emotion is..but one thing he was sure of now, he couldnt bear to see her like this again..ever!
His ringing blackberry suddenly brought him back from his train of thoughts..he quickly picked it up from the bed side table and stopped the alarm when he found her stirring in sleep n scrunching her nose at that vaguely loud and screeching voice. Sending a quick text to aman, the ever efficient man for checking on the preparations regarding the meeting with the foreign delegation’s, he glanced at her direction, ensuring she was back to sleep. Placing the phone on the table again he tucked her fully with the duvet that had slipped away and left the bed..still,5 in the morning.
Though, he could have asked her to woke him up in the morning and she would have happily done that too but this sudden newly found ‘caring’ side in Arnav Singh Raizada turned the idea down immediately..not that he would ever accept the existence of any such caring sides in him.
Half an hour later, an immaculately dressed Raizada in a pin stripe Charcoal grey suit, paired with one among the 10 white shirts that he owned, was talking to someone on the Bluetooth alongside searching for the file in his cupboard.
“hmm..be there in 15 minutes..”
“what about those papers you were working on..i want them ready as soon as possible”
“that one..just go through it..i dont want any loopholes in that..”
Still shuffling through the stack of files, urgently searching for the one he need for today’s meeting, he cursed profanities under his breath when the heap fell on the floor.
“Aman..’ll call you back..”
disconnecting the phone, he bent down to collect the scattered files alongside muttering what the’s under his breath when suddenly a blue file caught his attention.
Leaning forward he pulled it out from beneath the others and stared at it for few prolonged seconds..Sudden flashbacks returning n playing in his mind.. It all had started with this..isn’t it? He knew what was in it and he haven’t looked at it twice after that day, still a running out of time Raizada couldn’t help but open it.
and there it was..THE contract. A piece of paper that had bound him to khushi for the next one year of his life.
“Read it first carefully..i don’t want any mess from your side later..”
He pushed the paper to her side and then leaned back on his chair. Rolling the pen in his smoothly among his fingers he kept his gaze firmly on her..noticing her reactions, her nervousness that she was trying so hard to mask from his hawk like eyes..He couldn’t have missed the small sweat beads forming on her forehead..how she was swallowing every now and then as if a constant lump was there in her throat. He hadn’t asked for this..it wasn’t as if he was forcing her on gunpoint.
“you okay? i can understand if you wanna change your mind”
He asked her after studying her reactions for another. minute or so.
“Yess i am..and..i am not changing my mind..”
She glanced up from the paper she was reading and replied, offering a small smile dat surely dint reached her eyes.
He shrugged his shoulders and sat back.
After reading it again, she glanced up to him..parting her lips as if to say something and then holding back at the last minute.
There its again..he felt his patience waning off quickly and he couldn’t hold back from saying,his hands sprawled on the mahogany wooden desk.
“Look Ms. Gupta..I think we should call it off..you obviously are not ready for something like this and by the way you are reacting seems like you are forcefully being dragged into this contract thing and all. Dont forget what you are getting out of it..so stop playing this victim card on me”
She gazed him with temper flaring in her eyes and bit back the retort that he could sense was ready on her lips..Her face itched with a frown before she took a moment to calm her self and then she replied, a bit determined this time,
“where do i need to sign..?”
interesting..he fought back a victorious smile and slide the pen in her direction that he was playing with few minutes back. She took it carefully and leaned down to have a look at the contract once again, she was about to seal the document with her signature when she glanced at him for one last time,
“before that..i want to clear few things..”
She went on adding after he nodded with a shake of his, giving her a go ahead signal.
“You wont ask me about what i m going to do with that money..”
“Thats your money..i’ve got nothing to do with it..”
He assured her with a charming look on his face and waited for the next ‘thing’.
she took few seconds, licked her lips and spilled the next thing
“There wont be any..a..any physical relation between us..”,
“Fair enough..Not a problem”
He nodded immediately..as if he was dying to jump in bed with her..He had more than enough alternatives for that.
She shook her head in negation and scribbled her signature at the dotted line on the bottom of the page.
There it was..sealed…done!
He took the contract from her hand and glanced it carefully..after he was satisfied, he pulled out a drawer, extracted a cheque and handed it to her,
“Your money..25 lacks..cash it anytime..”
She took it with shaking hands and her eyes widened after looking at the figure scribbled on the cheque.She folded it and kept it in her handbag. Muttering quick bye, she was about to leave, when his voice interrupted her,
“You free next Saturday?..”
She turned back and doing a quick calculation in her mind, replied him with a positive answer, he pulled out his diary, and after going thru it for few seconds, replied,
“Good..me too..Get ready..we are gonna get married on saturday..”
He obviously choosed to ignore her reaction where her jaw dropped to the ground and her eyes bulged out. The way he was immersed in his phone ignoring her obvious presence in the room, just told her that she was effectively dismissed and quietly she left the room, closing the door with a soft click.
Staring at the contract now, brought back all those memories. It was barely four months back but it seemed like ages now..like he had came a long distance after that. He caressed where ‘khushi gupta‘ had been scribbled at the bottom, with the pad of his thumb. The paper poking from beneath this contract caught his gaze and he took it out with tender hands.
He had get them ready the same day she had signed the contract..all willing to seal the seal full and final..That day, these divorce paper had felt like his key to freedom, had given him the feeling of power he possessed, had given him the notion about writing his destiny with his own hands..the master of game that he had formed and laid,whatever his reasons were for entering into this marriage, Arnav Singh Raizada hated found himself at the mercy of situations, time and experience had made him aware of this prominent character trait of his own self. No body could dominate the man who was set to dominate the world..he had smirked and scribbled his signature on the divorce paper that day, keeping it safe in the file.
Now seeing the paper and his signature on it again..he wasn’t sure about his feelings now..did he feel the same as that day?,he couldn’t help but ask himself.Certainly not..the sane part of his mind answered quickly. The dimensions of what he called as game, are not the same anymore..hell, there’s so much involved now. His trance got broken by another call from aman and he decided to keep the matter aside as for now. he’ll deal with this later on. He kept the papers back in the file, arranged the stack of files in a line and kept them back in the cupboard..carefully placing the file beneath all..out of anyone’s reach…not that anyone will dared to go through his stuff..least of them,khushi.
With the desired file that he was originally looking for, in his hand, he casted a glance at her still sleeping form and was about to move out of the door, when he went back to the bed side table and scribbled something on a paper.with that he turned back on his heels and left the room.
she woke up to an empty and cold bed beside her. Rubbing her eyes, she glanced around the room for any traits of him. checking the clock, her brows furrowed together when she saw that it was only 7:30 am. Where’s arnav jee? she questioned herself when she saw that the washroom was empty too. He never woke up before 8. Confused, she leaned up and was about to crawled out of it when a pale yellow color note beneath a paperweight caught her attention.
Scribbled in his beautiful, mesmerizing handwriting was a message to her,
‘Important meeting..leaving for office. tc
though it was illogical and quit foolish but her heart leaped with happiness at that uber short note only..Not that it was a love letter, there weren’t any formal greetings even..but she felt her heart getting warm by just one sentence, faint blush returning to her cheeks just cuz of the fact that he thought enough about telling her his whereabouts..so very un-raizada like? wasnt dat?
4 months back, when she was about to marry the most cold and brooding man in the town, if someone would have told her Raizada could do such simple gestures too..she would have laughed it off on their faces.
In these 4 months she had seen him transforming step by step..bit by bit..a piece at a time. She knew she hadnt signed for this, but it just happened that by the time she was aware, her feelings had already created enough wreck for herself. She had seen him transforming from a cold persona to the one, working his mind for gaining an apology, she had seen enough caring traits in him that he had originally reserved for his di only..whether he was aware about them or not..but things got changed dramatically after that incident..though she never wanted to revisited those memories again, but along with that incident she had came across a whole new persona of the man she call her husband..a man so understanding, who helped her in fighting with those demons..the man who hold her when she was at her vulnerable worst self..a man who consoled her when she was just looking for that.
and how could she forgot the night, probably a week aftr that unfortunate incident, when she had her first nightmare..the incident playing in her mind again..she was being dragged, somebody had chained her, keeping her in bound, she couldnt scream, she couldnt call for anyone to help,hell,she couldnt call for him, the evil laughter echoing in her ears making her stomach churning with fear and panic..she felt on the verge of breakdown..she felt her throat getting dry..the lump forming there..she was on a lone, stranded desert..with no one in sight..a fear gripping her heart in its claws,then she felt that ugly nasty touch crawling throughout her skin,burning it..making it filthy..filling her with disgust..she felt so dreadful that even death was the most preferred choice seemed to her for that moment..then someone screamed her name,
and she stilled.
“wake up khushi..you are having a nightmare..”
someone jerked her from her state and she opened her eyes to a frantically looking arnav staring down at her..without giving her any chance to react, he gathered her in his arms and started soothing her back. His touch felt so different that the earlier one she experienced in her dream..so safe..so secure..and she willingly snuggled deeper into the only place felt safest for her that moment.
“Relaxx..it was just a dream…”
he whispered after few minutes of prolonged silence where she felt her breathing getting back to normal..his hard muscles felt more comforting than the softest of velvet..he tucked her in the blanket again..keeping him close all the time..within her reach..giving her assurance that nothing could harm her..for he’ll keep her safe at all cost.
and the nightmare hadnt returned since then!
The more she thought about it..the more she wanted to keep thinking about him..time and again, he was proving her wrong..everytime. Initially, she was looking for something, anything to hate that arrogant man she had entered into marriage with..no doubts, she had tried her best to keep him at arms length..but then she realized she was failing badly at that hating task with each passing day..and when her feelings got involved uninvited..things got changed dramatically.
once bitten..twice shy..the famous old saying was proving right in this case..cuz she suddenly put a halt at the way her thoughts were proceeding. STOP it Khushi!
No..she wont make the same mistake again..dont mess the things when they are falling on track..and then she realized that no expectations are the key to happiness..take it a day at a time.Decision made, she exhaled deeply and looked at the note in her hand..her lips curved into a small smile and she caressed it with her thumb pad. Thoughts now locked up somewhere in the back of her mind and a sweet yet unexpected note in her hand..khushi kumari gupta was more that ready to start her new day.