Arnav was getting dressed for the day. As he started putting on his vest, he called Aman on his Bluetooth, “Yea, alright!..... Aman, I want every damn thing in order within an hour! This is not acceptable….. Tell the client to accept every condition of ours, otherwise cancel the damn deal!”
Khushi was busy folding clothes, her mind still restless, preoccupied…
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Khushi looked up, “Jijaji, aap?” It was Aakash. Arnav looked up with questioning eyes. Then said to Aman on his Bluetooth, ”Just a minute, Aman! Call me back later!” He hung up, looked at Aakash…
Aakash had his usual simple smile on his face, warmly said, ”Bhai, I need to discuss a few things about Lovely!”
Khushi immediately looked up, her senses awoke as she heard Lovely’s name. Arnav asked Aakash, “Huh?”
“Shall I go to pick her up or would you like to go.. or…” Arnav interrupted him, “I’ll go, I think..”
Just then his phone rang. ”Hello, ARNAV Singh Raizada here!”
He listened intently, said intermittently, “No, it won’t be a problem..”
”No, it won’t be a bother..”
”Fine! As you wish!” Arnav finished the call.
Then he looked at Aakash and said, “Well, as it turns out, neither of us would be going to pick up Lovely! That’s what she prefers! She said she wants to meet all of us together.”
Aakash smiled… shook his head and left.
Arnav started working on his laptop. He did not fail to notice that Khushi was intently listening in on the conversation and had been observing him carefully… each and every movement he made… She was trying to hide her restlessness, quite unsuccessfully.
Arnav looked up at Khushi. She was trying to put the folded clothes inside the closet but her gaze was steady on Arnav… deep in her thoughts she did not even realize that Arnav was looking at her for a while now…Arnav was amused by her behavior but he preferred to say with a dismissive gesture, “What?”
Khushi.. startled..said, “Did I say something?…. I… I… ”
Arnav smiled to himself. He remembered how smothering it felt when Khushi was completely withdrawn… though not back hundred percent to her chirpy style, at least she was more relaxed now.. he heaved a sigh of relief… Khushi said softly, “What happened?”
Mami as usual was up to her own tricks around the house…. Peeking around… She noticed that Shyam was standing in front of Arnav’s room deep in his thoughts. She walked up to Shyam and demanded, “Damad ji, what are you doing herewa…?” She startled Shyam. Cunning Shyam quickly brought a sweet smile to his face and said confidently, ‘Nothing, Mami ji… I was just.. I was just thinking about this new guest… she will be coming today, right?”
“So.. then why are you standing here?....Her plane is not landing here!” Mami laughed on her own joke….then added, “You have not seen her before anyway! So.. why are you thinking about her?” Shyam, of course, had no answer for Mami. Mami waved her hand and suggested, “Let’s go downstairs and wait for the arrival of the guest!”
Shyam looked both ways. He did not want to leave as he wanted to see what Khushi was up to… frustrated, he muttered under his breath, “So, Mami ji, now you won’t let me check on Khushi ji.. Wonder what is going on between Khushi ji and Arnav!” Just the thought of leaving Khushi alone with Arnav in the same room had been torturing him since Arnav’s return.
When Shyam noticed that Mami was looking at him with narrowed eyes, he gave a broad smile and said, “You are right, Mami ji! Let’s go!”
Three hours later…
Arnav was once again on the Bluetooth.. talking to Aman, “Aman, not acceptable.. It’s been three hours! .. and no information yet?.... Dammit!... Call me when you do!” He jerkily took off his vest, unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt… hastily reached for the glass of water on the bedside table and gulped it down… Then he sat on the chaise and started working on the laptop…
Just then Khushi entered the room, with his juice … Arnav kept working on his computer.. Khushi put the glass of juice by his laptop and lingered… Arnav looked up..”What?”
“Now what?” He demanded…
Khushi took few steps towards the bed. Hesitantly she sat down on the edge of the bed and said, “I.. I need to talk to you!”
Arnav’s jaw became firm. He started clenching his teeth slightly...almost gave an alarmed look and said, “Not again! Not again, Khushi!”
“Arey, at least first listen to me…, Aranv ji!” Khushi urged in a calm voice… that alerted Arnav… ”This better be good!” he thought to himself.
He carefully looked at her face, realized that Khushi was serious. Arnav’s mind tugged with his heart for a few moments… then he almost gave up into his heart and said in a somewhat softer tone, “Khushi, bolo.. !.. What is it? Tell me. Just don’t tell me that same stuff again..”
Khushi nodded quietly and said in a soft voice, “There are two more months left!” Flag went up in Arnav’s mind as soon as he heard Khushi bring up the contract. “In two months.. the six month deal will be over. Since I have to stay here for these two months anyway, I want to utilize the time better… so that I can…. I mean, Shyam ji…”
Arnav clenched his teeth and interrupted her, “Not again!.. Not again, Khushi!... I told you! I don’t even want to hear his name… Dammit!”
Khushi was taken aback. She quickly gathered herself… said in a mellow tone, “Please.. don’t be angry, Aranv ji! At least let me finish what I have to say… Please!”
The urge in her innocent eyes made Arnav go weak, “Whatever... go on!”
Khushi thought for a moment, she looked Arnav into the eye and said, “I want something from you!”
Arnav was stunned… Khushi had never asked for anything for herself before. He reminded himself, it could be about Shyam…
“Now what..?” Arnav asked with frustration..
“I need a promise from you!” Khushi’s words made Arnav’s eyes go wide first… then narrow…
“?”Arnav at Khushi with his eyes asking a question…
“You promise me first.. then only I will tell you!” Khushi said in a straightforward manner… looking him into the eye intermittently.
“First you have to tell me what it is about. I don’t want to get involved in another one of the stupid plan of yours again!” The moment these words left Arnav’s mouth, he knew he said it wrong. He looked at Khushi, her eyes showed hurt.. her face mellowed down..
Arnav felt bad that he had hurt Khushi again. His hand folded in a tight fist behind his back. He averted her gaze briefly… his eyes mellowed down..
He got up from the chaise, took couple steps towards Khushi. She immediately jumped to her feet. Arnav looked deep in her eyes.. his eyes were searching for something… Khushi was lost in his gaze for a moment..
“Okay, I promise…” Arnav said in a very soft whisper, his gaze still focused on her face.
Khushi’s face brightened with hope. She said in a calm voice, looking him into the eye… “These two months, I am going to try my best to bring the truth forward… not half… but full. Truth and nothing but the truth!”
Khushi’s voice got heavier as her eyes welled up, “I feel crushed under the burden of truth….I cannot breathe easy till the truth is revealed..” she looked at Arnav with pleading eyes..
Arnav struggled not to burst with anger.. Khushi had brought up Shyam despite his warning, “Listen, Khushi! Tell me NOW what this promise involves.”
Khushi looked at him.. collected her thoughts.. started hesitantly but then said confidently, “This month.. you will do as I say!” “Excuse Me?” Arnav said surprised.. shocked.. Khushi did not stop, she continued, “You won’t ask me any questions no matter what I do.……Just let me do it my way.. whatever and however I do it!”
Arnav exclaimed, ”What the!”
Khushi replied, “ I do not mean to be a trouble but I have no other option. Please.. let me do this my way...” Then she looked Arnav deep into his eye and said in a soft emotional voice, “I cannot do it alone, Arnav ji! I need you to be with me!”
It was sinking in. Arnav realized that Khushi was asking for his help… it melted his heart.. his defenses were down… Arnav took few steps forward… Khushi stayed in place, aware of his advance… looked intermittently at him. Her heart started beating faster…her breath started getting shallow and heavier… Arnav came very close to her. His warm breath was touching her face, he looked her into the eye and said, “One month…. One month is a long period… You promise me that you won’t create any new drama… think of leaving Shantivan.. or.. something like .. what was that.. Yea! That ‘Swami’ thing..”
Khushi gulped down… afraid that he could hear her heart beating so loud and fast…she cut him off and asked in a heavy voice, “And… what if I try to be Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada…?”
“What the..” Arnav looked at Khushi puzzled…
“Leave it to me…” Khushi said with slight enthusiam...now that her heart was under control…
“See, Arnav ji… I already have promised you that I will stay here for these six months… to do whatever you want me to do… Are you willing to let me do things my ways for this one month? I promise that I won’t cause any trouble...”
Arnav was somewhat frustrated; he did not understand what she meant. He said, “Whatever, Khushi! Do whatever you want… Stay assured though that if it becomes intolerable, I will take back my promise….! Is that acceptable to you?”
Khushi nodded in affirmative...
“Okay, then!” Said Arnav and he turned around… as both of them rushed to move, they stumbled on their feet and ended up grabbing onto each other….. they ended up in a tight embrace….
Everyone in RM was downstairs in the living room. Having tea. Arnav kept working on his laptop… Khushi brought him his coffee..
Nani ji looked at Khushi with an adorable gaze, said, “Bitiya, won’t you have some chai?”
“Ji, Nani ji, I will… ” Khushi answered. Before moving aside, Khushi reached for Arnav’s face… gently moved his hair from his forehead…let her hand linger over his hair briefly.. A sweet sensation ran through Arnav’s body. Surprised he muttered, ‘What the…”.. Khushi quickly made an eye gesture that told Arnav to stay calm… Arnav looked down and started working on the computer again…he kept stealing gazes at Khushi from the corner of his eye… her gentle touch had stirred something deep inside him.. Anjali and Nani ji looked at each other happily.. raised their eyebrows as mischievous smile flickered across their lips.
Just then the doorbell chimed. Aakash jumped to his feet, “Looks like Lovely has arrived!”
Arnav moved his laptop aside, stood up and hurried to the door with his long strides. Everyone else followed him with their eyes…
Arnav opened the door. A beautiful, sophisticated woman dressed in a spaghetti strap blouse and a sexy chiffon saree entered RM. With a beautiful face, shoulder length wavy hair, delicate diamond jewelry, stilettos, a bracelet in one arm and delicate watch on the other wrist… she walked in through the door exuding confidence. As soon as she saw Arnav she screamed happily, “A S R…” She spread her arms and hugged Arnav. Arnav hugged her back.., “Hi, Lovely!”
By this time everyone was at the door. Khushi could not help but notice that Arnav’s face was lit up with a happy smile.
As they pulled away, Lovely said, “Wow, you haven’t changed, my dashing handsome friend!... ASR, nothing seems have changed about you…!”
Then she gave Aakash a quick hug… ”Hey, how are you?”
Lovely looked at Nani ji and bowed down to touch Nani ji’s feet to seek her blessings… ”Be happy, Bitiya!” Nani ji blessed her with an affectionate smile as she caressed Lovely’s face gently.
Anjali was standing next to Nani ji.. all smiles. Lovely and Anjali hugged each other. Lovely said, “Yes, I have to yet meet your husband…“ “He should be around…,” Anjali said as her eyes searched for him… That made Anjali and others aware of Shyam’s absence.
Mami ji stepped forward, “Hello Hi Bye Bye! Ms Lovely – we are here too.. you know...”
With a wide smile Lovely opened her arms and hugged Mami ji, after a kiss… kiss on either cheek… they burst out laughing.. Khushi and Payal were observing Lovely keenly… Khushi looked at Arnav who still had a faint smile on his face… something hurt big time inside Khushi’s heart.. . she moved closer to Arnav..
Just then, Lovely turned around and asked Arnav, “ASR, introduce me to your wife now!” Mami ji interrupted… with wide eyes and a surprised look she said, “Arey, Ms Lovely, how come you have all the news?”
Lovely gave a cute smile and said, “Well, we are talking about the wife of THE ASR… everyone is bound to know... I saw it on the TV…” Lovely’s searching eyes went around the room… her gaze stalled over Khushi standing next to Arnav. Khushi seemed a little lost. Lovely took a couple steps forward as Arnav extended his hand and said, “Lovely, meet Khushi….. my wife!”
Khushi looked at him uneasily… then she looked at Lovely, put her hands together and said with a hesitant smile, “Namaste!”
Lovely rushed over enthusiastically and hugged Khushi saying, “Let me give you a hug.. sirf ‘Namaste’ se kaam nahi chalega…. Just ‘Namaste’ won’t do!”
Khushi smiled at her shyly… Then Lovely turned to Aakash and asked, “Your better half?” Aakash introduced Payal to Lovely…. “Payal, this is Lovely…. Lovely, this is Payal!” Lovely gave Payal a warm hug too as Nani ji provided information, “Lovely Bitiya, these two are sisters……Khushi bitya and Payal bitiya..”
Anjali was all smiles as she said, “Let her come in first!.. Come, Lovely!” Everyone moved to the lounge area..
Just then walked in a handsome guy through the main door of RM, well dressed, tall, and confident with a smile on his face…he announced, “Lovely dear, I am here!” Lovely ran and hugged him….