Thursday, 24 August 2017

chapter 6 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF,

Atul was really happy that his best friend was finally back. He had missed Armaan a lot during the latter's absence. At first, he couldn't believe Armaan had left & his reasons for leaving were borderline disgusting. Armaan who could die for Riddhima, couldn't live with her because she was wheelchair bound? Seemed like the blackest blasphemy. Atul had despised Armaan for doing that to Riddhima.

That's why he was so happy when Riddhima told him the real reason for his leaving. He knew deep down that Armaan was not so petty to leave Riddhima because she was physically ill, but seeing that he had left & given that for his reason for leaving had stumped him. If the guy himself was saying he's leaving because of it, it must have been true.
But knowing that Armaan's reasons for leaving were so selfless had made him respect his best friend even more. Atul was proud of the man Armaan had come to be. When Armaan had joined Sanjeevani, he had been a kind of playboy, always flirting with girls around him. He knew he was good looking and charming and used it to his advantage. Atul knew that Armaan had never had a serious girlfriend before Riddhima. And being with Riddhima had changed him so much. It had made him more caring, loving, and sensitive and a whole lot of other things. She had made him a better person altogether.
Atul would always be thankful to Riddhima for doing that to Armaan. She was just so amazing. She never knew what effect she had on people. How her loving, caring, sweet and selfless nature made other people think about she was so much better than them, and that they should learn something from her. Riddhima was the kind of person who always wanted to help others irrespective of the fact that what circumstances she was in. She was incredible.
That's why Armaan leaving her had angered Atul so much. How could Armaan put Riddhima in pain? She was one of the most beautiful person he had met. And he wasn't talking about her looks. Sure, Riddhima was pretty, but she had the most beautiful soul. No one could ever hurt such an incredible person. And to think that the person whi did so was the one who claimed to love her the most. Armaan always said that Riddhima was the most important person in his life. That he could do anything for her. That he never cared how Riddhima looked, to him she would always be the most beautiful person on this planet. The first chance to prove all of this, and Armaan had fled like a coward.
But thankfully, he hadn't left because he was selfish, he had left because he was so damn selfless. It just proved that Armaan had been saying the truth all along. Riddhima was the most important person in his life. And to make sure that she was happy, he was ready to go to any length, even make her hate him if it meant she could be happy. Riddhima was lucky to have a guy like him in her life. Everyone said that it was Armaan who was lucky, but at times Atul thought that it really was Riddhima who won the lottery, not the other way round.
"Oyyyeee saale, kabse wait kar raha hai?" Armaan's voice brought him out of his thoughts.
"Abbe kabse wait kar raha hu! Itna kitna time laga tujhe? Jaanta hu Ridz ke saath tha aur tujhe usse chodkar aane ka mann toh kar nahi raha hoga. Magar kabhi apne Champ ke baare mein bhi soch liya kar!" Atul ranted.
Armaan smiled.
"Saale tu bilkul nahi badla na?" saying so Armaan hugged Atul.
Atul was stunned for a moment before he hugged Armaan back.
"Chal aa baith. Bata mujhe kaisa hai tu?" Atul asked him.
Armaan sighed before narrating the whole story to him. About the test results by Dr. Shashank, the Panchangani facility, Canada, coming back to India, that night he saw Riddhima and then going back to get treated again.
Atul was stunned by Armaan's revelations.
"Tu Ridz se bohot pyaar karta hai ye main jaanta hu. Magar itna zyada?!" he said, amazed, "Woh bohot lucky hai Armaan."
"Woh nahi, main hu lucky. Tujhe pata hai, koi aur hoti na...toh kabhi mere liye itne time tak wait nahi karti. Mujhe bhool kar apni zindagi mein aage badh chuki hoti. Par meri Basket toh sabse alag hai.", Armaan replied, with a faraway look in his eyes, ehich always seemed to have when talking about Riddhima, as if he was imagining her.
"Baat toh sahi hai. Mujhe abhi bhi vishwas nahi hota ki oh Dr.Shashank se ladi", Atul said.
They spent some more time swapping stories and anecdotes.
"Chal yaar! Ab bohot thak gaya hu. Kal hospital bhi jaana hai", Atul said.
"Haan chal, tujhe chod deta hu", Armaan replied.
After dropping Atul, Armaan made his way to the Gupta mansion. He knew it was late and Riddhima might be asleep, but the desire to see her face once more was too strong. If it was within his means, he would never let Riddhima out of his sight and keep her wrapped in bubble wrap for the rest of her life so he knew she was safe & with him.
"Hello, Mr. Pipe, kaise hain aap? Bohot miss kiya maine aapko!" Armaan joked before climbing it up.
He was breathing heavily by the time he reached Riddhima's balcony. He was definitely out of practice.
There she was, sitting on her bed in her pyjamas, anxiously checking her phone every two seconds, for his call he hoped.
So, he whipped out his cell and fired her a text, 'Hi'
Her phone beeped and Armaan's heart leaped on seeing the smile that graced her face when she came to know it was his text.
A-Soyi nahi ab tak?
R-Tumhaare phone ka wait kar rahi thi
A-Mujhe miss kar rahi ho?
A-Oyye Hoyye
R-Kyu? Tum mujhe miss nahi kar rahe?
She frowned on reading that.
A-Zyada tedhi medhi shakle mat banao. Bohot darawani dikhti ho. Ab tumhe miss toh tab karunga na agar tumse door rahunga. Tum toh bilkul meri aankhon ke saamne ho!
On reading this, Riddhima immediately turned towards the balcony to see Armaan staring there, a knowing smirk on his face.
Riddhima shook her head on seeing him there and moved towards him. He could hear her muttering something but all he caught on was hamesha' nahi' & sudhrega'.
He didn't waste anytime and pulled her into his arms as soon as she was within touching distance. She crashed into his chest due to his sudden movements.
"Armaan kya ye karte rehte ho poora time!" she exclaimed.
"Arre, ab jis kaam ke liye aaya hu woh hi tum nahi karne dogi kya?" he questioned.
"Aur ye kya kaam hai tumhaara?"
"Romance", he replied cheekily.
"Tumhe har samay bas yehi soojhta haina? Kabhi romance ke alawa kisi aur cheez ke baare mein bhi soch liya kijiye, Dr.Mallik. Faayde mein rehenge aap", Riddhima replied.
"Yaar tum itni unromantic kyu ho? Main pipe pe chadhke, apni jaan khatre me daalke itni raat ko tumse milne aaya hu aur tum toh mujhe kuch bhaav hi nahi de rahi", he said, sulking like a child.
"Main...main tumhe unromantic lagti hu?" she asked, bewildered.
"Aur nahi toh kya! Kabhi aaj tak romance kiya hai?" he questioned.
"Aur yeh kya chal raha hai?" she asked, indicating at his arms around her waist and hers around his neck.
"Ohhh...woh woh toh..." he fumbled.
"Rehne do Armaan! Ab batao yahaan kyu aaye ho? Hum abhi 2 ghante pehle tak to saath mein hi the na?" he asked him.
"Ab main tumhe miss kar raha tha, toh tumse milne aa gaya. Aur kya?" he replied.
"Tum mujhe do ghante mein hi miss karne lag gaye?" she questioned.
"Do ghante toh bohot zyada time hai Riddhima, main toh tumhe tabse miss kar raha hu jabse main yahaan se Atul se milne nikla tha. Tumse Ek second bhi door rehta hu na, toh us ek second mein tumhe bohot miss karta hu", he replied, looking deep into her eyes.
Riddhima was touched hearing this. The intensity of Armaan's love for her always took her by surprise.
Not knowing what else to say, she settled for,"I love you."
"I love you too", Armaan replied.
He then pulled her in for a rib crashing hug.
After a few minutes, he pulled back and then placed his lips on hers for a soft kiss. Riddhima smiled against his lips and kissed him back.
They broke apart when it got necessary to breathe, and settled on Riddhima's bed. Riddhima wrapped herself around Armaan like vine. Armaan folded her in his arms and rested his head on hers.
They stayed like this for a sometime, not talking, just basking in each other's presence.
"Waise Basket, jo kaam ke liye aaya tha, woh toh karne do!" Armaan exclaimed suddenly.
"What?" Riddhima was confused.
"Haan baba, ek second", saying so, he extracted Riddhima from his arms.
Riddhima pouted at the loss of heat. He smiled seeing her expression and pecked her lips. Then he reached in his jacket pockets and removed a box.
"Ye lo, tumhaare liye", he said, handing the box to her.
Riddhima's face brightened on seeing the box and she opened it eagerly.
She gasped on seeing the contents of the box. There they were, the kada and the payal. The first tangible proof of their love. The first ever gifts that he had gotten her.
She looked up from the box, up at him and smiled widely, trying to keep her tears at bay. Armaan grinned.
She immediately got up and threw herself in his arms.
"Thank you", she whispered, not knowing what else to say. Armaan just smiled in response.
He bent down and removed the payal from the box. Making her sit, Armaan tied the payal on Riddhima's ankle, kissing her there. Then he made her wear the kada, placing a kiss on the back of her hand. Riddhima smiled and kissed his forehead, before pulling him up on the bed. They settled in, Riddhima in Armaan's arms, again.
"Ab hum hamesha saath hi rahenge na Armaan?" Riddhima questioned him.
"Of course hum saath rahenge. Main kahin na jaa raha, tum bhi yahin ho. Ab kuch galat nahi hoga. Tum aisa kyu pooch rahi ho?"
"Jab bhi hum khush hote hai, kuch na kuch ho jaata hai Armaan! Pehle Papa ko humaare rishte se problem thi. Jab woh maan gaye, toh tumhaara amnesia. Aur jab phir sab theek hone laga toh engagement waale din woh...attack. Ab agar kuch hua toh main..." Armaan placed his hand on her lips before she could finish the sentence.
"Iske aage kuch mat kehna. Tumhe pata haina... mujhe nahi pasand jab tum aisi baatein karti ho. Ab main kisiko humaare beech nahi aane dunga. Sirf main Aur tum. I promise", he said, kissing her head.
"I love you", she said.
"I love you, too", he replied.
"Armaan, jab tak mujhe neend nahi aati, mere saath yahin raho", Riddhima told him.
He nodded and pressed a kiss to her lips.
"Good night, jaan. So jao tum. Main yahin hu tumhaare paas", he smiled.
Riddhima blushed on hearing the term of endearment from him. He had never called her Jaan' before. She couldn't describe the flurry of emotions that passed through her in that one second. She felt ecstatic, loved, needed, wanted and so in love with the man before her that it just threatened to burst out of her. A huge grin made its way on her face before she could stop it and she blushed a tomato red.
Armaan was looking at her changing expressions, confused. He couldn't decipher what had caused her strange reaction. Thinking back, he realized what he just said. He had called her Jaan. Oh. That may have been the cause of her blush and grin. Thinking about it, he grinned himself. He hadn't even realized that he had called her that. The name slipping easily off his mouth as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Well, of course it was. And it was true, she was his Jaan'. If anything ever happened to her, he was sure he would die.
He looked at Riddhima to find her already gazing at her adoringly. For a moment, they lost themselves in each others eyes, living in this beautiful moment.
"Chalo, jaldi se so jao, Jaan", he repeated, empahsisng on the word, Jaan.
Riddhima nodded and settled herself comfortably against him.
He kept running his fingers in her hair, pressing soft kisses here and there, to ensure her that he was there with her.
After a few minutes, he felt her breathing go even, indicating that she had gone to sleep.
He smiled seeing her sleeping so peacefully, an angelic smile on her face, clinging to him like second skin.
He pressed a few soft kisses to her head, forehead, eyes, nose and her lips. He whispered an "I love you", against her lips and carefully extracted himself from her arms.
He wrote her a note and kept it at her bedside, with a rose that he had bought for her.
He kissed her forehead & then left through the window.
The next morning, Riddhima woke up with a smile on her face. Her eyes fell on that note he had left her with the rose & she smiled even wider.
The note simply said,
You're beautiful, baby. I love you'
She smiled widely reading the note and kissed it. She took the rose in her hands and examined it as if it was the most delicate thing in the world. It smelled divine.
She removed an old diary and kept the rose there, to preserve it forever.
She texted him, I love you, Armaan' and then got ready for her jog. She was excited at the prospect of seeing Armaan at the basketball court.
Riddhima was really disappointed when she saw Armaan wasn't there at the court. She called him but he didn't pick up, so she let him be thinking he might be sleeping.
She sighed and finished her jog, reaching home just in time for breakfast. She decided to hop in for a shower before breakfast as she was all sweaty. She was getting ready for it when her phone started blaring Mann Mera' from indicating that it was Armaan.
She smiled widely before answering the call.
"Good morning, sweetheart",Armaan greeted her.
"Good morning", she smiled in to the receiver, blushing at his term of endearment.
A-Oyye hoyye, tumhaari ye sharm toh ek din meri jaan hi le legi.
R-Armaan! Kaise? Tumhaari jaan toh mere paas hai.
A-Oyye hoyye, I love you, Basket.
R-I love you, too. Ye batao aaj subah kahaan the?
A-Kahaan tha matlab?
R-Aaj basketball khelne nahi aaye the tum.
A-Ohhh...woh toh main aapke surprise ki taiyaari kar raha tha. Isliye nahi aaya.
R-Surprise? Kyu?
A-Tumhe surprise dene mujhe kisi wajah ki zaroorat thodi hai. Jab mera mann karega, main tumhe surprise de dunga.
R-Armaan ye surprise wagerah chodo...Tum kyu hamesha aise karte ho?
A-Arre kya rehne do. Kuch nahi. Maine sab arrangements kar liye hai. Aur waise bhi, itne time se maine tumhaare liye kuch special nahi kiya. Please Jaan kuch mat kaho. Mujhe karne do. Please. He said, hoping that using his new found magic word might work. Thankfully, it did.
R-I love you, she sighed, kabhi nahi sudhroge.
A-I love you, too, Basket. Achcha ab jaldi se ready ho jao. Main ek ghante mein aa raha hu. Ok?
R-Ok. Bye.
A-Bye, jaan.
Riddhima smiled and turned to go in the shower when she noticed a packet on the table that she had missed earlier in her hurry. Sighing she opened it, already knowing it was from Armaan.
Inside was a beautiful salwar suit.
Yeh Armaan bhi na, kabhi nahi sudhrega', she thought to herself.
She showered and then dressed in the suit and went for breakfast.
Naina had already left by then. She ate her breakfast quickly, gulping it down, without actually tasting one bite.
Armaan would be here any minute, she had to be ready before that.
"Riddhima, achche se kha beta, itni kya jaldi hai tujhe?" Padma mom asked.
"Maa, woh Armaan aata hoga. Uske pehle mujhe ready rehna hai, warna woh mujhe tang karega", she explained.
"Hey bhagwan! Kitna ladte ho tum dono. Riddhima tu Armaan ko zyaada pareshaan mat karna", Padma mom said.
"Haan, Haan, main hi tang karti hu. Woh toh kabhi mujhe tang nahi karta. Doodh ka dhoola hai aapka' Armaan", she replied, quoting the Aapka' with air quotations.
Just then, they heard the doorbell ring.
"Le aa gaya wo, jaldi khatam kar naashta", Padma mom told her.
Riddhima finished the food quickly and went to the kitchen to wash her plate. Armaan was waiting for her when she returned.
"Chalein?" he asked.
She just nodded her head, trying to contain her smile & happiness on seeing him.
Even though he had been back for a while & they were together althrough the previous day, it still felt like a dream. She felt that any time her alarm would ring and she would be greeted by the loneliness she had been consumed in since the past 1 year since he left.
She was so lost in thought that she didn't realize that Armaan had caught hold of her hand and brought her outside the house until he pulled her into his arms tightly, burying his face know her neck & nuzzling her.
"Kya hua Riddhima? Tum thodi khoyi khoyi lag rahi ho?" he asked, his voice muffled by her skin.
"Kuch nahi, bas ye sab sapne jaisa lagta hai. Aisa lagta hai ki jab aankhen kholungi toh sab pehle jaise hoga. Tumhaare bina", she said.
Armaan flinched on hearing this, guilt overpowering him.
Seeing him that way, Riddhima wished she hadn't said anything but she wanted an open relationship with him. They wouldn't make the mistakes they made last time. No secrets, no lies.
"I'm Sorry, Riddhima. Sab meri galti hai. I'm so stupid. Mujhe nahi jaana chahiye tha..."
"It's okay Armaan! Main kitni baar kahu tumhe, tum har waqt mujhse maafi nahi maang sakte. Tumse galti hui, har insaan se hoti hai. Magar maine tumhe maaf kiya. Hume aage badhna hai, Armaan. Puraani baatein yaad karke dukhi hone se koi faayda nahi", she told him, not letting him complete.
Armaan smiled hugely & pressed his lips to hers, kissing her softly.
"Wow Basket, meri company mein rehke tum bhi smart ho gayi ho", he joked.
"Hellooo...Main pehle se hi smart hu, samjhe tum!" she exclaimed.
They both laughed & then sat in the car & left.
"Hum kahaan jaa rahe hai?" Riddhima asked when they had been in the car for almost half an hour.
"Ghar jaa rahe hai baba, aur kahaan?" he said.
"Kyu?" she asked him.
"Bas dekhti jao", he replied cryptically.
She just shook her head at him.
He helped her out of the car once they reached his apartment building.
Riddhima was surprised to see a blanket spread out in the middle of the drawing room.
She looked at Armaan questioningly.
"Well, I thought we'll watch movies & laze around all afternoon?" he said, but it came out like a question.
She smiled at him before nodding her head.
"Good, you get settled & chose a movie. Main popcorn laata hu", he instructed.
Riddhima chose a movie and got comfortable by the time Armaan returned with popcorn, coke, chocolates & some other snacks.
He spread everything on the floor and sat down, pulling Riddhima close to him.
They snuggled closed to each other and Armaan hit play.
Sometime into the movie, Armaan got bored and started playing with Riddhima's hair to pass time.
He snuggled closer to her, nuzzling at her neck.
"Armaan, movie dekhne do na", Riddhima said.
"Hmmm", he replied, still continuing to nuzzle her.
Riddhima shivered Sue to the closeness, he was creating a havoc in her body with his ministrations.
"Armaan", she said, trying to be stern but her voice came out in a breathy whisper.
Armaan lifted his head on hearing her and was mesmerized.
Her lips were parted slightly and her eyes were closed.Her hair was all over the place as she hadn't tied it.
She looked so beautiful in that moment that he could do nothing but stare at her.
Riddhima opened her eyes when she felt him stop and not reply to her.
The look on his face took her breath away. He was looking at her like a blind man seeing the most enchanting thing in the world for the first time.
His gaze was so intense, conveying all his love. His eyes, Oh, his eyes! They were so beautiful, Riddhima couldn't help but drown in them.
Armaan moved forward, reducing the distance between them and captured her lips in a soft kiss.
At first it was a gentle brush of his lips against hers, but when she started to respond, he kissed her harder.
She responded equally and soon they were kissing each other passionately, with all their might.
Riddhima pulled back when it became necessary to breathe, but it didn't stop Armaan.
He moved his lips to her collarbone, kissing a path from there to her neck to her jawline, the corner of her mouth & then kissed her lips again, this time softer, sweeter, conveying all the love he had for her in that one kiss.
She kissed him back just as sweetly.
It was a kiss of promise, to love each other for always, to stay together through the thick and the thin and be happy with each other for the rest of their lives.
They broke apart after a few minutes and Armaan placed his forehead against hers, their lips still attached together.
"I love you", he breathed against her mouth.
"I love you, too, so much", she replied.
Any doubt that Armaan might have had that she regretted what had just happened between them or that she was feeling uncomfortable flew out of the window when he heard her response. For a second there, he had been worried that he might have crossed a line, getting so intense and passionate with her, but he hadn't been able to stop himself. He just loved her so much!
They stayed like that for a long time, entwined in each others arms, basking in the others presence, the movie long forgotten.
After sometime, Armaan pulled Riddhima into the kitchen claiming that he was hungry and she had to cook for him.
Riddhima just smiled at him, letting him guide her in.
They cooked together, well, Riddhima did all the cooking, with Armaan romancing her under the pretext of helping her out.
"Jaan, Atul bhi aa raha hai, lunch ke liye", Armaan told Riddhima.
Riddhima smiled hearing this, it would be good to have lunch with the two of them. Their antics would keep her amused for sure.
Riddhima had just set the table when the doorbell rung, signalling Atul's arrival.
Armaan opened the door for him and led him straight to the dining room.
"Hi Ridz", Atul greeted Riddhima.
"Hi Atul!" she said.
They ate together, laughing, joking and talking about their internship days, all the fun they had and all the troubles they got themselves into.
"Aaj toh mazaa aa gaya! Thanks yaar, Ridz itne dino baad aaj itna tasty khaana khaya", Atul told Riddhima.
Riddhima just smiled at him.
After a while Atul left for Sanjeevani to resume his duty.
Armaan and Riddhima lazed around for a while as they had nothing to do.
In the evening, Armaan dropped Riddhima home.
"Ek ghante mein ready ho jaana. Main aa raha hu tumhe lene", he told her, handing her a packet.

"Kyu? Hum kahaan jaa rahe hai?" she asked.
"Abhi nahi bata sakta. Surprise haina", he replied.
"Armaan please batao na", she begged.
Armaan just shook his head and pulled her in for a kiss.
Riddhima responded most immediately and they stood there, wrapped up in each other's arms, kissing the breath out of each other.
They finally broke apart when breathing became necessary.
"One hour, Basket", saying so Armaan got in his car and drove away.
Riddhima who was still in a daze realized what he had done, albeit a little too late.
"Idiot kahin ka!" she exclaimed.
She went inside, huffing about being one-upped.
"Arre Riddhima, itni jaldi aa gayi?" Padma mom asked.
Riddhima proceeded to her room still mad at Armaan, without answering to Padma.
She opened the packet once she reached her room.
Inside was a beautiful red dress and a note.
Mujhe pata hai ki tum aise dresses nahi pehenti.But I think ki meri Basket isme bohot hi zyada khoobsurat lagegi.
Please aaj ye pehenogi? Mere liye?
Agar tum comfortable nahi ho toh theek hai, magar mujhe bohot khushi hogi agar tum ye peheno.
I love you'
Riddhima smiled on reading the note, her eyes shining with unshed tears.
She kissed the note, then picked the dress up to see it properly.
It was a beautiful, knee length dress, with a belt on the waist that tied into a bow and sequins above it, ruffles below.
She smiled to herself on reading the note attached. At one point of time, she wouldn't have even thought of putting on a dress like that. But, staying in London for 8 months had changed her. No one wore salwar kameez there. And it looked stupid if you wore one. She found that the hard way when she had worn one when she had gone to see Rahul at the hospital one day. Everybody at the hospital had stared at her as if she was an alien. Feeling uncomfortable due to their scrutinizing gaze, she had decided to try wearing jeans. The jeans had gradually morphed into evening dresses, gowns and and all sorts of dressy clothes when she went out with Rahul and his friends.
She had been apprehensive and uncomfortable in the beginning, but slowly, she had come to realize that she looked good in those clothes. Not just good. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Sexy. These were just some of the words that the guys outside her circle had used to describe her when they struck up a conversation with her, trying to get to know her.
Rahul had only encouraged her more. Her psychiatrist always told her that she thought very less of herself. That she was beautiful, sexy, brave young woman and that she should start acting like one. All their words of encouragement, combined with those of Simar Aunty and Avinash Uncle (Rahul's parents) and all her new friends, had helped her get out of her shell, little by little, to morph her into the confident woman that she had come to be.
Sighing to herself, she changed quickly, applying some make up and putting on the Red Killer Heels' as her friends called them. She had bought a pair of them on one of her shopping excursions in London with a few fellow doctors whom she now referred to as her friends. They made her feel confident and sexy. Exactly what she needed to be when she was going out with Armaan.
She was ready within a half hour, an amazing feat, she thought to herself, since she took atleast an hour to get ready for special occasions generally. Maybe it was because she didn't waste time choosing a dress or because she didn't wear too much of make up or accessories. But mostly it was because she was so anxious to see Armaan again.
She thought that she was behaving like an 18 year old girl who had finally snagged a date with her long time crush, but she couldn't bring herself to care.
She was getting restless and fidgety sitting in the room, so she went in search of Padma, as she hadn't taken permission from her parents to go out with Armaan.
Riddhima found Padma in the kitchen, cooking.
She went in and gave Padma a side hug.
"Hi", she greeted her.
"Tu jabse kya kar rahi this kamre mein?" Padma mom asked her, still cooking, not paying attention to her.
"Woh main ready ho rahi thi", Riddhima replied.
Padma mom looked at her on hearing this.
She looked absolutely gorgeous.
"Tu kahaan jaa rahi hai, aise taiyaar hoke?" she questioned Riddhima.
"Woh Armaan mujhe kahin baahar le jaa raha hai", she replied timidly.
Before Padma mom could comment, Riddhima started talking,"Main jau na, Maa? Please, please, please. I promise hum zyada late nahi karenge. Mujhe pehle pooch lena chahiye tha, par Armaan ne mujhe bataaya hi nahi. Kehta hai surprise hai. Please, Mama, jaane do na mujhe, I swear next time aapki permission lekar hi jaungi."
Padma laughed at her adorable daughter who was asking for permission to go out like a 13 year old.
Riddhima was old enough to take these decisions herself and she didn't to take permission from her parents to go out, but Padma loved that she still asked them, unlike Anjali, who would just inform them of her plans.
"Chale jaa, isme poochne ki kya baat hai? Armaan ke saath hi toh jaa rahi hai", she replied.
A huge smile made its way to Riddhima's have on hearing this.
She hugged Padma tightly, repeating Thank You like a mantra over and over again.
The doorbell rang, indicating Armaan's arrival.
Padma opened the door and let him in.
She made him sit on the sofa while she went to get him something to drink.
A few seconds later, Riddhima came out of the kitchen with a glass of juice in her hand.
Armaan looked up to see her standing in front of him, offering him the glass.
He forgot to breathe on seeing her. She literally took his breath away. The dress fit her like a glove, as though it was made just for her. She looked ethereal.
Armaan didn't know he had been staring open mouthed until Riddhima shut his mouth for him.
"Makkhi ghus jaayegi, Dr.Mallik", she told him, as a matter of fact,"Aise aankhen faad ke kya dekh rahe ho? Main achchi nahi lag rahi kya?" She asked, suddenly feeling conscious of herself, a glimpse of the old, Riddhima seeping in.
"Nahi!" he almost shouted,"Tum...tum bohot achchi lag rahi ho...Jaise jannat ki pari", he added in a whisper, so softly that she almost didn't hear him.
They stood there gazing into each others eyes, drowning in the love they were feeling.
They were brought out of their La-La land when Padma cleared her throat.
"Saari raat yahin khade rehne ka iraada hai kya?" she asked.
"Nahi, nahi ma, hum bas nikal rahe the", Armaan replied.
He came forward and touched her feet and then kissed her cheek, saying,"Bye, gorgeous."
Padma just smiled and shook her head at him.
"Bye Ma", Riddhima said, and the two of them left, hand in hand.
Padma was very happy to see her kids like this, glowing with happiness.
Even though Armaan wasn't her own, she had always considered him as her own son. He was closer to her than any other of the girls' friends.
She sighed happily and then got to work in the kitchen.
Armaan pulled Riddhima to his car and then turned on reaching it.
He pulled her into his arms and pressed her body close to his.
He held her tightly and nuzzled her neck, pecking her.
Riddhima buried her head in the crook of his neck and returned the favor.
After sometime, Armaan pulled back, and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her softly, as if she were made of glass.
Riddhima kissed him back just as softly and after a while, their lips stopped moving.
They just stood their, wrapped up in each other, gazing into the others eyes, their lips still connected.
Riddhima was the first to pull back.
"Toh, Dr. Mallik, kahaan hai ye special jagah jahaan aap mujhe surprise dene waale hai?" she asked,"Ya aise hi mazaak kar rahe the aap?"
Armaan just shook his head at her and opened her door, helping her in and dropping a kiss on the top of her head.
He then got in the car and they were off.
They had been driving for a good half hour and Riddhima was getting impatient.
"Armaan! Hum kahaan jaa rahe hai?" she asked again, like she had been for the past half an hour.
"5 minute mein mera answer nahi badalne waala, sweetheart. Surprise hai", he replied, trying to keep a straight face.
Her impatience was adorable and he was having a hard time to not laugh at her childish behavior.
He stopped the car after a few minutes and Riddhima heaved a huge sigh. He just chuckled and for out of the car, motioning her to sit when she tried to open her door.
He jogged to the other side and opened her door for her, helping here out and pulling her body close to his, hugging her tightly.
Riddhima sighed and melted in his embrace.
Armaan pulled back and turned her around, removing a piece of cloth from his pocket and blindfolding her.
"Armaan kya kar rahe ho?" she asked him, laughing as his hands brushed her face, making her tickle.
"Shhh", he whispered in her ear,"Kaha na surprise hai."
"Aur mujhe dikh nahi raha toh main chalungi kaise?" she questioned, pouting adorably.
Instead of answering her question, Armaan picked her up in his arms, bridal style.
Riddhima shrieked due to the sudden movement and Armaan laughed.
Riddhima pulled herself close to him, wounding her arms around his neck, resting her head on his shoulder.
He kissed her forehead, lingering his lips there, murmuring an I love you'.
Riddhima smiled widely and returned his words and Armaan started walking.
Riddhima was enjoying the closeness, she buried her face in his neck and nuzzled, breathing in his scent.
Armaan's arms tightened around her and he started walking faster.
After a few minutes, they stopped and Armaan set her down, wrapping his arms around her from behind.
"Hum pohonch gaye kya?" Riddhima asked.
Armaan nodded against her shoulder.
"Toh fir patti kyu nahi khol rahe?! Kholo turant", she said authoritatively.
"Kholta hu, gussa kyu ho rahi ho!" saying so, he let go off her and removed the blindfold.
He quickly moved so that he could see her as there was no way he was going to miss the expression on her have when she saw the view for the first time.
Riddhima gasped predictably at the sight in front of her.
They were at the beach, alone. A table for two was set just where the sea met the land. A canopy surrounded it, with red and white curtains flying due to the wind. The moon cast a beautiful light.
The sight was too mesmerizing.
"It's beautiful", she whispered.
"Yes", he replied faintly, looking at her.
Armaan's tone made Riddhima realize that he wasn't talking about the view and she turned to ask him what he was talking about, but the look on his face made her forget everything.
He was looking at her, like she was the only thing in the world. His eyes held so much love, passion and warmth in them that it rendered her speechless.
"Armaan", she tried to scold him, but her voice was breathless due to the intensity of his gaze.
"I love you", he replied before pulling her into his arms, hugging her. Riddhima felt him putting something around her neck, and sure enough, when they broke apart, he lifted a pendant from the base of her neck.
It was beautiful. A heart studded with diamonds and rubies.
"Armaan", she whispered.
"Shhh... Kuch mat kehna. No talks about - Itna expensive gift kyu, main yeh nahi rakh sakti blah blah blah. Tum rakh sakti ho. Tumhaare liye hai. Mera dil", he told her.
Riddhima smiled. He knew her so well. She was about to protest, saying that it was too expensive a gift. She never understood why he spent so much money on her. All the random gifts he gave her, all those stupid and beautiful and incredibly romantic, yet totally unnecessary surprises that he planned for her were not needed. She just wanted him. Nothing else.
Armaan shook his head and pulled her to the table.
They ate the food, which so happened to be all of Riddhima's favorite dishes, talking about everything and nothing, laughing and just enjoying each other's company.
After dinner, Armaan pulled Riddhima in his arms for a dance.
They held each close, swaying gently to the music playing from Armaan's iPod dock.
As she swayed to the music, Armaan's arms wrapped tightly around her, Riddhima felt deliriously happy. And she knew that those 10 months of longing, sadness, betrayal and hate had all been worth it, if she got her Armaan in the end.

Until next time,

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