Sunday, 21 January 2018

part 6 : It all Depends on Love(AR)

As the stewardess brought them a mid air snack, Riddhima opened her eyes and came back to reality and stole a glance at him from the corner of her eye

He caught her looking. "Is everything ok?"

Riddhima nodded and answered formally, "yes, thank you, quite ok."

Armaan smiled. "One down and only a hundred and seventy nine to go."

Riddhima frowned, "One what" she enquired "A hundred and seventy nine what to go?"

Deliberately he held her eyes "Days wife… One down and only a hundred and seventy nine left of our wedding bliss."

"You mean our business contract." She corrected him with stern voice

"Riiddhiiimaaa! You are so unromantic baby."

"Yes I am so?"

"I can see that our honeymoon is going to be completely wasted on you."

"Totally, it this so called honeymoon was really necessary, you could have saved yourself some money for you next honeymoon"

"Not bad baby! Our first honey moon just started and you are ready for another one…"

"I am not talking about our honey moon… I meant…. After six months, you can marry someone and go on your honeymoon."

"We will talk about this after six months… right now you are my wife and we are on our honeymoon."

Their plane landed and they made their way to the hotel by taxi. In spite of herself, she pressed against the taxi window, her excitement growing as they made their way through the hectic evening traffic.

Next thing she heard Armaan murmur, "We are here," as the taxi stopped in front of the city's most famous and exclusive hotel.

"Nothing but the best, I see." Riddhima said cuttingly to cover her awe.

He merely smiled that infuriating smile as he leaned across her to open up the door. "But of course, nothing but the best for my wife."

Riddhima avoided looking at him as she climbed out, reluctant to let him see just how much his banter got to her. For she knew he was only doing it to annoy her. This "my wife" routine was just his way of amusing himself by irritating her.

As a man in hotel uniform came hurrying down the steps to gather up their bags, she took a deep breath and composed herself. She must try not let him upset her and never allow him to gain the upper hand. Otherwise the next six months could prove to be a living hell.

She stood to one side but within hearing distance, as Armaan crossed to the reception desk. This was the moment of truth she had been dreading, when the details of a somewhat crucial subject that she hadn't so far dared to raise would finally be revealed to her. Namely their sleeping arrangements for the next few nights. In spite of this embarrassing appearance as newly weds, surely he had the good taste to book them into separate rooms…

To her sudden acute distress, it appeared that he had not. An apprehensive chill crept through her bones as she heard the desk clerk politely acknowledge him. "Oh hello! Mr. Mallik" then with a discreet smile and a glance in her direction , he added," The bouy will show you the bridal suite."

Riddhima's heart dropped to her shoes. The bridal suite! Hadn't Armaan taken that joke far enough?

Deliberately, she kept her eyes away from his face as he took her arm and steered her across the huge marble hall to where the uniformed boy was waiting by the lifts. All the way up she stared at the floor, carefully keeping her anger in check. Inside, she was boiling. How dare he drag her to this charade…?

At last, at the end of the corridor, they reached the door of the Bridal suite," Madame… monsieur…" The boy pushed the door open and stood aside.

The room beyond was sumptuous, like something out of fairy tale… , furnished with exquisite taste in shades of red and powder blue. But what totally dominated the entire room and instantly drew her uneasy eye was a huge silk bed that seemed to shimmer beneath the starry chandelier.

A more romantic setting for a honeymoon was almost unimaginable. What a waste, thought Riddhima thought to herself, that none of it was destined to be put to the use that its designers had intended.

The uniformed boy was showing them round, pushing open the door of the adjoining bathroom with its ivory fittings, sunken bath and separate Jacuzzi.

Now he was opening another door and leading them into the room beyond bedroom… a large sitting room, comfortably furnished with a sofa and arm chairs and a writing desk in one corner.

At this revelation, Riddhima felt some of her tension slacken. So there were two quite separate rooms, after all. It looked as though she had misjudged him. He had evidently taken a suite for the sake of appearances, knowing that in fact, it will suit their purposes very well. The big sofa was nothing when compared with the bed in the room next door, but no doubt it would be adequately comfortable. She allowed herself a sigh of relief.

With a bow and tip, the boy left the room. "Alone at last…. Shall we unpack and order something from room service, or would you prefer to go out for a meal?"

"I'd be quite happy to eat here." She replied, stifling a yawn.

"Precisely my feelings." Armaan was peeling off his jacket and tossing it on to a chair. He crossed to where the boy had laid their suit cases, unzipped his bag and quickly began unpacking his things and hanging them in the wardrobe. Aware of her eyes watching him, he glanced round at her over his shoulder. "This is your job" he told her with an ambiguous smile, " but just this once, I'll let you off."

"My job?"

"It's a wife's job to unpack for her husband. Don't you know about things like that?"

"No, I don't, as a matter of fact… There is one thing we should get straight right form the very start… I will not be performing any wifely duties for you at any time over the next six months."

He finished unpacking and tossed her a smile." However, to make up for the disappointment of not unpacking for me, I will leave you to order dinner for us. I am off to have a shower." He paused and handed her the room service menu that stood propped on the bedside table. "I will have the steak. That's always excellent here… And a bottle of red vine…

He threw her a deliberately aggravating wink as he headed towards the bathroom door. "You choose anything you like. Do you think you can manage that?"

Riddhima almost threw the menu after him as the bathroom door closed behind him with a click…exasperation rendered her almost speechless as, very slowly, she counted up to ten…

She flicked through the impressive room-service menu and decided to go along with Armaan's choice. A nice big juicy steak was precisely what she felt like right now. She had just laid down the phone and was setting about unpacking her own few things when the bathroom door opened and Armaan emerged, clad only in hotel's toweling robe, the clothes he had been wearing earlier draped casually over one arm, he crossed to a drawer and pulled out a plastic laundry bag into which he deposited shirt, underwear and socks.

Riddhima kept her eyes averted as he then moved to the wardrobe to hang up his suit, "As you'll have noticed, I have used only a small part of the hanging space. Fell free to use the rest."

"So kind!" Her tone was sarcastic as she waited for him to remove himself before carrying over her couple of skirts and blouses and arranging them on hangers. Too bad there weren't separate wardrobes, she was thinking, moodily as she pushed them to the end of the rail, as far away from his things as she could possibly get. There was something all too intimate about their clothes hanging together, side by side, in the same wardrobe. Which was why she had left her underwear and her night things discreetly in her bag? Armaan had brought no night things, she had observed. Thank God he would be locked away safely in the other room for the night."

He was sitting on one of the bedroom chairs. The deep V of the loosely tied robe revealed his smoothly muscled chest, while the hem that stopped short above his knees exposed to perfection a pair of shapely male legs.

Riddhima hadn't even removed the jacket of her suit. She thrust her hands into its pockets and looked down a t him censoriously. "Don't you think you ought to get dressed? They will be here with our dinner soon."

Armaan raised one dark eyebrow at her and stretched his legs more comfortably. "I am dressed wife! Don't worry those room service boys have seen a lot more shocking things in their time than your Husband in his towel robe." His deep blue eyes roamed over her attire, "Why don't you follow my example and slip into something more comfortable?" He nodded in the direction of the bathroom. "There is another robe in their."

He had to be joking! Riddhima had no intention of parading around semi-clothed in front of him. "I am already quite comfortable enough," though it wasn't really true. The centrally heated room was extremely warm and she could feel the silk blouse beneath her jacket sticking to her back. Dinner arrived promptly and was served in the sitting room. The steak was absolutely delicious. Away from the bedroom, Riddhima started to relax bit. She had finally succumbed to the central heating and removed the jacket of her suit.
Armaan just smiled." Hot, HUH? I told you, you should have changed."

Throughout the entire meal. In fact, he was remarkably civil, keeping the conversation to a comfortably non personal exchange of stories about Paris and hotels abroad. And as he put to her his plans for the week ahead… Riddhima began to feel the tiniest spark of enthusiasm come alive. And why not? She rationalized to herself. It was a long time since she'd had a holiday, and Paris was one of the world's most exciting cities. Why shouldn't she enjoy it?

"Desert?" He asked as they pushed aside their empty steak plates.

Riddhima shook her head. "No thanks."


Again she shook her head. "I think I'll skip that as well. I'd like to have a shower now and turn in, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind at all." He stretched briefly and yawn." I am pretty tired too. "He ran long fingers over his hair. " I think you are right, it's time for bed."

Riddhima awkwardly stood up. "Ok I'll leave you then. Do you want to use the bathroom first?"

Armaan shook his head. "No need,"

"In that case I'll say good night." She turned and headed for the bedroom door.

Once on the other side of the door she let out a huge sigh of relief. She kicked off her shoes and crossed to the bathroom. Instead of the shower she had mentioned, she'd treat herself to a relaxing ten minutes in the Jacuzzi. That would give Armaan time to help himself to a couple blankets from the wardrobe and make himself comfortable on the sofa next door. She smiled to herself. He had said he was tired too. By the time she emerged from the bath he would probably be sound sleep

Out of the bath, she rubbed herself dry and tied a soft red towel around her bosom, which barely skimmed the tops of her thighs, she stifled a sleepy yawn. Suddenly the thought of that huge silk bed, just waiting for her on the other side of the door, was enormously appealing. She couldn't wait to get into it. She felt as though she could sleep for a week.

As soon as she opened the bathroom door, however, she realized something was amiss. All lights in the bedroom beyond had mysteriously been dimmed. Riddhima frowned. That's going on? Then, cautiously she stepped into the room.

The next instant she stopped in her tracks, all her tiredness instantly fleeing from her. Armaan was lying casually on the bed and smiling strangely.

"At last you came out." The blue eyes caressed her semi naked form as from one hand he flicked back the comforter and invited, "Come, wife. Come and join me."

Riddhima felt her jaw dropped open. Her feet seemed riveted to the floor. All at once she was spinning on her heel and hurtling back through the bathroom door. As she strode back into the bedroom, clad in the toweling robe, ready for confrontation, he had already risen from the bed and was standing, hands in the pockets of his own toweling robe, half way to the bathroom door. He gave her a quizzical smile. "What's the matter Riddhima?" Didn't you expect me here?"

Of course she hadn't she'd expected him to be next door, tucked up on the sofa, sound asleep. "I would have thought that was obvious." She snapped back defensively at him. " I don't make a habit of parading around half naked in front of men I scarcely know."

He stepped towards her with a smile. "No need to be so nervous, Riddhima." His hand was on her arm, deep voice, moving still closer, he assured her, "We can take this whole thing just as slow and easy as you wish."

"What whole thing?" What are you talking about?" her limbs suddenly frozen.

"This," All at once, the hand on her arm had slipped round softly to encompass her waist, and with only the lightest of pressure, it seemed, he was drawing her weightlessly into his arms. Riddhima gasped soundlessly as the warmth of his body made contact with her own. Then his free hand reached up to sweep through her hair, sending hot and cold shivers across her scalp and she had no strength to snatch her head away as his lips began their slow descent towards hers.

She stood immobile in his arms as firm, hard, sensuous lips claimed hers in a searing hot kiss. She shivered as he pulled her closer, his mouth moving magically against hers, seducing her senses as he deepened the kiss. She suddenly felt the hand at her waist move round with tantalizing intent to cup the full, firm swell of her bosom… the strong , hard fingers softly moulding, sending tingles of wild excitement blistering across her naked nerve-ends   
It was like being possessed by some force beyond control. For a moment she seemed suspended, all powers of resistance paralysed within her, then the hand at her bosom began to move downwards, tugging at the toweling belt at her waist… In an instant the powers returned to her and the will to resist was unclogging her brain. With a sudden burst of strength she hauled herself free from his embrace, her hands clutching at the disheveled front of her robe as she staggered backwards, her eyes spitting fierce outrage.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?" she demanded furiously.

For a moment, Armaan didn't move. Slowly he narrowed his eyes at her and when he spoke his voice was gritty and low. "What the hell do you think I was doing? I was making love to my wife."

She continued to back away from him, though he had made no move to close the gap. "You can forget about anything like that. That was never a part of our deal." With trembling fingers she pulled her belt tight.

"Who says?" he demanded roughly

"I say… you are going against the deal we made. We agreed that our relationship was to be strictly business."

"Did we?" One dark eyebrow arched. "We made a business deal I'll grant you that, but I don't recall at any stage the content of our relationship being discussed. Am I wrong? Did you at any point stipulate that our marriage should be anything less than a full and properly consumed union?"

"I didn't think that was necessary. I was under the impression that both of us our civilized people." She told him tightly, her face grown pale

"Then you are wrong. If you think I have any intention of enduring next six months of celibacy, then I am afraid that you are in for a shock. You and I, Riddhima, are legally married husband and wife… and Husband and wife is what we are going to be, take my word for it in every respect."

"If its just celibacy you are worried about, you don't need to… You have got Anjali… You don't need me. You are perfectly free to continue your affair." She assured him hurriedly

"Is that so?" He held her arm and pulled her towards him. "For such an innocent girl like you, that's a remarkably laid back attitude. What have you done to yourself Riddhima? You don't look 18 anymore. Now you look like a big grown up girl. Both, mentally and physically." Then the lines of his features darkened again and he left her. "I am afraid, dear wife; adultery is something I don't believe in. There will be no affairs, not with Anjali nor with another woman. What do I need with other women when I already have a wife?"

"You may have a wife." She glared at him "but there is only one way you will ever get your way with me…… and that is if you are prepared to drag me to your bed and rape me."

Her melodramatic little outburst brought a little faint smile on Armaan's lips. "Sorry to disappoint you sweet heart but this is never going to happen. I prefer my women willing… I know very well you can't resist my touch… You can deny you don't love me as many times as you can, but I know how much you love me… You left me because you chose to… now I don't even want to know the reason… but there is one thing I am sure about… It wasn't possible for you to resist my touch two years back… and you still can't resist me…" His eyes scanned her trembling form. "But I am ready to give you time to come around… I am a patient man up to a point."

"In that case, you will wait for ever." She took pleasure in informing him.

But Armaan simply smiled again. "I repeat… I will give you time… In the mean time, I suggest we get some sleep… since there is nothing else to do." He glanced across the big, waiting bed. "If we keep to opposite ends, we should be able to get through the night."

This had to be another joke. "Surely you don't seriously expect us to share the same bed?"

"I can see only one bed, so what's the alternative?" He gave a tired shrug " Don't worry, I am sure I will manage to keep my hands off you."

Riddhima straightened. "That's out of question." Then she reminded him " There is a sofa next door."

He shrugged again, "That's up to you. If you prefer to sleep on the couch, you go ahead."

"but I thought you…"

He interrupted. "Sorry Riddhima but I have never had much of a passion for sleeping on sofas. "You will probably find some spare blankets in the cupboard and if you find the sofa too uncomfortable, you can always come through and share the bed with me."

She turned around and helped her self with an armful of blanket, headed towards the sitting room and swore under her breath... "Ullo… Bandar… Khotay da puttar…"

"She still thinks I don't understand Hindi..." Armaan smiled to himself and went to bed

Riddhima went to the sitting room and closed the door behind her. What a nave and trusting fool she had been ever to have believed for a single moment that a man like Armaan Mallik would be capable of conducting this so called marriage with decency. The next six months were going to be hell. Tonight, she sensed, was just the start.

From sheer exhaustion, Riddhima slept, but she woke up next morning feeling as tough she had spent the entire night on the rack. Her neck ached, her back ached, her shoulders felt stiff. From head to toe she was a mass of cramps.


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