Tuesday, 23 January 2018

part 7 : It all Depends on Love(AR)


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.


She staggered through to the bathroom to find Armaan already up and dressed and giving out some instructions over the phone, sitting on the bed. So even on his honey moon its business as usual, she thought with a smile to herself as he barely bothered to glance her way….

He was still on the phone when she came out of the bathroom, but again he failed to acknowledge her presence as she quickly grabbed some things from the wardrobe and hurried back to the sitting room to dress. It was only when he joined her downstairs for breakfast, half an hour later that he tossed her a casual "Good morning." Followed by a wicked, "How did you sleep?"

"Oh! Very well… thank you…" Riddhima lied.

"In that case you will be feeling anxious to get started with the day. I thought we could start off with a bit of sightseeing."

Riddhima eyed him across the table "If you have business to attend to, please don't feel the need to interrupt it in order to entertain me. I can quite happily look after myself."
   
"How could I Allow my wife to go wandering the streets of Paris alone? Besides with a desirable young women like you to do distract him, how could a man even think of work"

As he said it, he held her eyes and paused to stretch his long legs out under the table. "Khota"… she swore under her breath… "All right then, If you insist… we will go for sightseeing today…"

When a taxi drop the off at a little restaurant, Riddhima realized that the morning to her astonishment went off quite well. She was feeling much more relaxed. It was Armaan's favourite restaurant, he had told her..

As Riddhima finished her lunch, she glanced across at her husband with sudden twinge of curiosity."You know Paris very well, don't you?" In the course of the morning that had become very clear. He knew his way around the city almost like a native and was full of those little gems of information and the guide books never told you.

"Yes I do spend a lot of time here for business. Don't tell me you don't remember, I used to come here two years back when you were playing with my feelings."

"I was not playing with your feelings. You misunderstood… you thought I was 18… it's not my fault"

"And you didn't even bother to clear that misunderstanding." He paused for a second as if gathering strength to say something and then continued "One night you confessed your love for me, we made Love whole night, we promised to love each other unconditionally… Next morning I went to buy a ring for you, I wanted to marry you, You know I was head over heels in love with you… But what you did to me…. You left me… went back to London."
"I had a very important deal to sing… That's why I went back."

"You could have informed me."

"I left a note for you."

"Yes you did." He took out a piece of paper from his wallet and threw it on the table. "This note, right?"

"You still have this note?"

Ignoring her question "You left this note, which says… 'I am leaving Armaan… Thank you so much for the wonderful night.' This so called note my dear was a tight slap on my face… I really don't know about you but for me it was not a one night stand… I was planning to marry you… But you ruined every thing."

Riddhima was dumbstruck… guilty… angry…. And Happy 'He loved me! Oh God! It was not one sided… Thank you God…. Thank you so much…'

"I know you don't have any thing to say" Armaan broke her chain of thoughts "But I will never forget what you did to me and I won't give you another chance to hurt my feelings."

Riddhima blinked hard to stop her tears 'Is it all over now? He doesn't love me anymore… But why am I feeling like this… I always knew this… He never loved me… What if whatever he said is true?'

Riddhima asked in a barely audible voice. "Do you still…."

"NO" Armaan interrupted "I don't love you anymore… If that's what you want to know."

"I have booked us a table at the most sophisticated restaurant of Paris" Armaan changed the topic

"Are you mad?" Riddhima looked at him with wide eyes "We were discussing something very serious."

"Serious?" Armaan arched his one eye brow "We are already married sweet heart and there is no need to discuss all this."

"We are married for only six months." Riddhima answered

"Who says?"Big smile

"Armaan" Shocked

"Riddhima"Smile

"Armaan"Confused

"Riddhima"Embarrassed

"Armaan shut up." Angry

"Ok fine for six months, Happy? Now tell me some thing… Have you brought some thing suitable to wear?"

"What's wrong with these clothes? I hope you want to me to wear a topless evening dress."

Armaan gave her a mischievous smile " I would love to see you topless inside our bedroom but I was talking about our dinner, there will be other men in that restaurant and I really don't want any other man to see my wife like that." He winked at her "So tell me did you bring along something for such a sophisticated night out? And let me tell you those prim outfits you favour so much, which cover you from head to toe, just won't do at all."

She glared at him "I didn't know you prefer something little more showy and vulgar."

Armaan held her eyes. "I'll show you what I like."

**************

A sales person welcomed them inside the boutique with a predatory smile. "Bonjour, Madame, monsieur, Puis-je erte de service (Can I help you?)"

"I want something special for my wife." Armaan explained in faultless French "Something for evening semi formal."

The woman turned to Riddhima with an appraising smile and proceeded to lead her dumbstruck client to the other end of the shop, where the rail of expensive looking dresses hung. She picked out a short silk spaghetti strap dress which was promptly held up for Madame's approval.



She shook her head "I don't think so, Its too showy, too short and I don't like its colour."

The woman turned to study the rail some more, but before she could lay hands on some other dress Riddhima stepped forward and made her own choice, " I like this one." She said and pointed to a black skirt suit.



But before the assistant's finger's had time to reach for the hanger, Armaan cut in "No black. That's my only reservation."

Riddhima made a face. "But I like black."

"You already have a wardrobeful and we are not going on funeral." Before she could argue further, he leaned forward and picked a dress off the rail. "This one." Holding an eye catching red coloured dress that Riddhima would never normally dared to consider.




The sales assistant smiled her approval "Parfait monsieur" as Armaan thrust the garment at Riddhima and commanded "Try it on. I want to see how it looks."

A few minutes later, in the privacy of the dressing room, Riddhima had to admit that it looked quite stunning. It was an of shoulder dress full length evening dress. It wasn't showy or vulgar at all. It fitted her like a second skin. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror, but inwardly she was shaking her head. It was an exquisite dress no doubt, but its off shoulder cut definitely wasn't looking good on her. Even Armaan would realize the moment he set eyes on her.

Armaan virtually applauded as Riddhima stepped out self consciously from behind the dressing room curtain. "Terrific! We will take it." He responded at once.

Riddhima stared at him, aghast. "But it's not my type of thing" she protested "I couldn't possibly appear in public in a dress like this."

"Nonsense! You can and you will. You look ravishing, my dear."

"No I don't. The black dress I chose was much better. It's too showy."

"It's showy? And the one you chose wasn't showy? And before she should argue more he bundled into her unwilling arms a pile of carefully selected elegant day dresses and stylish skirt blouses. "Now try these on" he commanded "I am not through with you yet."

Riddhima glared at him. "This one dress is enough for me."

"But not for me…… and since you have been such a good girl, I will allow you to have the black as well, which you chose and which is not going to show your legs." He winked at her.

As they climbed into a taxi and headed back to the hotel, he informed her with a grin "Now you are ready for Paris and for the life of Mrs. Armaan Mallik."

For the latter she would never be ready, Riddhima confided privately to herself. But for Paris, who knew? With skeptical interest at her own transformation, she regarded her reflection in the sitting room mirror later that night, as she got ready to go out.

With a discreet tap on the door Armaan came into the room. "You are looking stunning." He complimented her, coming to stand alongside her in front of the mirror.

He was dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, his dark hair glistening, his handsome features relaxed and smiling as he came to drape her new silk shawl about her shoulders. He looks like every girl's dream escort, Riddhima couldn't help thinking to herself, aware of the strange new felling somewhere in the pit of her stomach.

The dinner followed by musical play went exceptionally well. As the stage exploded in a riot of colour, with each scene more spectacular than the one before it, Riddhima sat mesmerized. Never in her life before had she seen anything quite like it. Not for a long time had she enjoyed herself so much.

"Did you enjoy watching this?" Armaan enquired with a smile as the final curtain came down and they sat drinking a last cup of coffee.

"Yes very much" she paused for a second and asked "Do you take all your girlfriends here?"

"You are not my girl friend. You are my wife." Armaan answered with an arched eyebrow.

"For six months only."

"For six months or six weeks…" he held her eyes. "You are my wife and that's the only thing matters."

Riddhima told him harshly, responding to the change in mood "So just in case you were hoping that by bringing me here you might manage to get me in the mood to succumb to your sexual advances, I am sorry to tell you have wasted your time."

Even as she was saying it, she felt faintly ashamed. For, in her heart, she knew perfectly well that such a seduction was not his style. And al at once, for no reason at all, a perfectly pleasant evening had been spoiled.

In the taxi on the way back to the hotel the two of them exchanged not a word, though Riddhima was aware, from time to time, of glittering blue eyes fixed on her face. In angry silence they took the lift up to their suite

As without the backward glance, she proceeded to head for the sitting room door, he reached out and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her to him in a brutal embrace.

"Just a minute" he snarled "You forgot to say goodnight." His deep blue eyes with thick black lashes burned down threateningly into hers as he went on, mimicking her earlier outburst at the restaurant "That little show and dinner may have failed to get my little wife in the mood, but it sure as hell worked wonders for me.."

Then he was jerking her helpless body against his, as his mouth ground down in a punishing kiss, strong fingers clamped against the back of her skull, making it useless for her to resist. His free hand moved around to caress her waist, probing the think silk of her dress, sending hot humiliating shafts through her veins.

Riddhima was gasping for breath as he caress her roughly with his hands and his lips, her limbs trembling from the force of his assault as he paused to demand in a harsh, roughened voice " So, my darling little wife, will you be sharing your husbands bed tonight?"

In panic and furry, Riddhima drew back. "Never."

"Fine then… you can sleep on the bed… I'll sleep on the couch tonight."

"No thank you, I don't want any favour from you." Riddhima snapped

"I am not doing any favour. I want to see how comfortable it is… You chose this little couch over the big cozy bed… It must be very comfortable… and I want to experience its comfort."

"Don't try to act smart Armaan… Don't pretend you care for me… I know you don't… you let me sleep on this uncomfortable sofa last night and I…"

He cut in, "So you didn't sleep properly last night… why did you lie to me then."

"I didn't lie."

"Yes you did."

"Ok fine I did… so what… as if you care"

"Yes I do… and I let you sleep on that couch because………s"

She interrupted. "Because you enjoy torturing me"

"No I Don't"

"Yes you do"
"No I don't" Armaan raised his voice "That's what you enjoy doing, you always took me for granted, I am not made of stainless steel Riddhima… you always play with my feelings… You left me without even telling me the reason."

"I am happy I did that."

Armaan glared at her with anger

"Don't give me those looks Armaan… I am happy I left you… you don't deserve me… You are not trustworthy… You are a heartless man… "

Armaan clenched his fists…

Riddhima continued "I am regretting my decision now… I shouldn't have married you…I know very well these six months are going to be hell for me… and this is just the beginning"

Armaan shut his eyes to stop the tears, threatening to spill any moment… 'Get a grip Armaan… you can't do this… not in front of her at least… You can't give her another chance to hurt you… Control yourself'

"Ever since I met you my life is a living hell… making love with you that night was the biggest mistake of my life..."

Armaan opened his eyes... he was shocked… hurt… He never expected her to say this… ''Biggest mistake of her life…. How could she say something like this… she doesn't love me… she never loved me… I am an idiot… it was always one sided…why Riddhima… why…'

"Don't look so shocked Mr. Armaan Mallik… yes it was the biggest mistake of my life…" she paused for a second and then continued in a louder voice "I HATE YOU ARMAAN MALLIK… I HATE YOU"

If her last sentence was a shock for him, her next sentence killed him… he was standing there shocked… He didn't know what to do… what to say… the person whom he loves more than his life… hates him… She hates me… OH GOD! No… this can't be true…

"What wrong Mr. Mallik? Why are you so quiet now? Don't you want to say anything?" She waited few seconds for his answer but when he didn't say anything she continued
"Fine if you don't have anything to say… I want to remind you that we made a deal… six months of marriage and you will give sanjivani back to my brother… Till that time I want you to behave like a gentleman..." with a sarcastic smile she added. "I know its difficult for you to behave like a gentleman… but still… you can at least try… Both of us are part of this deal… and it will ……."

"Enough" Before she could complete furious and angry Armaan grabbed her by her shoulders, his fingers cruel steel, his eyes murderous as he cuttingly informed her "Now you should consider the fact that you are not the only one who can fail to carry out a commitment. Since you refuse to be my wife in any real sense, it's equally within my power to refuse to go ahead with my side of bargain."

As roughly as he had grabbed her, he released her and pushed her bodily towards the sitting room door. "Perhaps you should think about that wile you are lying next door on the sofa protecting your precious cold-blooded virtue!"

Annu

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