Wednesday, 24 January 2018

part 8 : It all Depends on Love(AR)



Armaan headed for the bed as Riddhima closed the sitting room. Armaan sat on the bed, put his face in his hands and started crying bitterly… tired… Hurt… exhausted Armaan lay on his bed and closed his eyes…

On the other side of the suite Riddhima slammed the door shut and stood rooted on the spot... The couch on which she slept last night was replaced by a big comfortable sofa come bed…

"Ullo ka Pattha… That's why he was ready to sleep here… or behave aise kar raha tha jesay ehsaan kar raha hai… Khota…. You are such a jerk Armaan…"



Deeply troubled Riddhima crawled beneath the blankets and closed her eyes…

Flashback

Riddhima promised Mrs. Mehta to end her charade soon. She just wanted to give Armaan some time to realize that she couldn't be a thief ' how could he accuse me for stealing my own bracelet' Riddhima thought before going to sleep.

The next morning Riddhima's anger at Armaan had lightly abated, and she was forced to admit he would be less suspicious of her it she looked more like her old self. A bit old but much mature than her present cheeky persona.

She contacted Mr. Malhotra to ask if it was convenient to take off the whole day.

"Ya sure… But just one day" he informed her

"Thank you so much Mr. Malhotra"

Light heartedly she set off for famous and highly modern beauty parlour called Luscious…

"I suppose you wish to have set it in the same style as this? Hair dresser asked

"Unless you can think of a better way. I am willing to leave the style to you."

He threw a Black cape round her shoulders and instructed his assistant to wash Riddhima's hair… A girl came forward and gave her hair the most vigorous wash before returning her to Bobby (hair dresser), who was waiting for her with scissors poised.

Crossing her fingers, Riddhima sat down and closed her eyes… An hour later she stared into the mirror, bemused at the stranger staring back at her.

With new confidence Riddhima set off in search of clothes more keeping with the image she wished to project. Still young, of course, but old enough for Armaan to stop thinking of her as a child.
Mrs. Mehta made no attempt to hide her delight at Riddhima's appearance. "I am glad you are finally taking interest in yourself"

"Don't I always… apart from the last few weeks?"

"I have bought new clothes too." Riddhima opened one of the packages, disclosing a pink cotton dress. "Do you think Armaan will approve this?" Taking it out, she held it against herself.



"You are not planning to wear it for work? The housekeeper exclaimed.

"I'd like him to see me as I really am."

The nest morning in her new pink dress, she set off for Mallik mansion. She couldn't wait to see Armaan's face when he set eyes on her and she fantasized about his reaction. How fabulous it would be if he fell in love with her on sight.

Chiding herself for being stupidly romantic… and she a logical and hard headed business woman too… she almost ran the last few yards and breathlessly pushed open the door.

Luck was on her side, for the very man she wanted was emerging from the sitting room. Her heart raced. She hadn't seen him for a day and the sheer handsomeness of him hit her. Tall, well built, he emanated such sexuality that her body tingled. Motionless, she waited for him to come closer, but with nary a glance in her direction he walked past her, his expression intent, his eyes glazed.

Indignantly she stared after him. What a let-down!

Mr. and Mrs. Malhotra's appreciation of her changed appearance and Maria and Sarah's 'ooh's and aah's' did much to re-establish her self esteem, though it wasn't until she was setting out the morning coffee in the sitting room and Anjali asked her if she had won some lottery, that Riddhima suddenly wondered if Armaan would think her new appearance and wardrobe came from selling the bracelet.

If only she'd thought of that before. But it was too late to revert to her old image and if he did eventually notice it and pass a sarcastic comment she hoped she'd find the right response.

"I have nothing else to spend my wages on" She answered Anjali.

"You are looking gorgeous." Vicky, one of Armaan's team members gave a wolf whistle asked her for Dinner.

"I am not sure Mr. Mallik would approve." She hedged

"I am not inviting Armaan… Only you."

"Not inviting me where?" Armaan came to stand beside them.

"I am persuading Riddhima to have dinner with me." Vicky answered "Doesn't she look great."

Armaan studied her from top to toe but his expression was unreadable as he turned to Vicky. "If you can spare a moment, we should discuss that new program we are doing."

The two of them drifted away and Riddhima continue pouring the coffee. So much for her new image … Why bother when it attracted the wrong man? Armaan hadn't even noticed it, Let alone commented on it. As far as he was concerned, she was the same girl he had first met examining the hole in the wall…

Riddhima was fuming as she helped with the lunch. As soon as it was over, she'd dash home and change back to her 'maid' image.

After lunch Armaan with his team left for some very important business meeting. Armaan and his team were working on a project for last few days which was very important for their company. They worked day and night to make a flawless proposal so that Garewal's couldn't refuse it…. After Armaan left Riddhima was instructed to clean his office, when she went there she saw a C.D with a proposal file on the table… Armaan had informed Vicky about that C.D and file in front of her during lunch. Fortunately she knew where Garewal's office was… She took the like and left after informing Mrs. Malhotra that she is not feeling well and needs some rest…

Riddhima drove as fast as she could and reached Garewal's office in 10 minutes… On the reception she met Tina, her ex-assistant, who informed her that the meeting has been postponed and the candidates have half an hour to submit their proposals… Riddhima gave her the C.D and file.

"Will you please submit this on Mr. Armaan Mallik's behalf." She requested Tina

"Sure Miss Gupta… I'll submit the proposal and inform you…."

"Here is my number" Riddhima gave Tina her card and left from there

Riddhima was sitting on the couch thinking about Armaan when she heard a car screeched to stop in the drive of Gupta house, peering through the window, she was astonished to see the very man she was thinking of. She ran to open the front door and he barged straight in…

"I have caught you this time." He hissed, grapping her arm and dragging her into the sitting room.

"Caught me where?" she gasped, trying to pull free.

"Don't play innocent with me… I saw you sneaking from my house with my proposal file…

"I wasn't sneaking" she flared.

"You damn well were… That's why I followed you.'

"You followed me?"

"Yes I did… I came back to get my C.D and file and I saw you sneaking from my house with my file… At first I thought you were going to give that file to me… I tried to stop you but you didn't hear my voice… so, I followed you… but when I reached there you were talking to Abhimanyu Modi… My biggest Rival…. You gave him my file… How could you Riddhima…"

Riddhima stared at him with shock

"Dammit Riddhima, I gave you a chance to redeem yourself and what the hell do you do? Repay me by stealing my things."

Boiling with indignation, Riddhima rounded on him in fury, but her retort was drowned by the ringing of her cell phone. Reaching for it, she heard Tina on the other end.
"Your work is done Miss Gupta."

"That's wonderful, Tina" she murmured "But I'd like you to tell Mr. Mallik yourself. He is right beside me."

She handed the receiver to Armaan, and, watching him as he listened to Tina, she wondered how he must feel to know the truth.

"Riddhima, what can I say?"

"What did Tina tell you?" she asked

"She said Miss Riddhima came to submit the file."

"Just Riddhima… I mean she said Riddhima came?"

"Yes… You went alone… Didn't you?"

"Yes of course" Riddhima let out a sigh of relief…'thank Dog she didn't say Riddhima Gupta'

"What can I say Riddhima." He repeated huskily "Other than to apologise."
"It isn't necessary to apologise." She said coldly " I just hope this has taught you to give people the benefit of the doubt and not jump to nasty conclusions about them."

"Generally I don't."

"You always think the worst of me."

"I know and I can't fathom out why." He shook his head in bewilderment "you annoy me so much that I … I guess I lose my temper with you… I really feel… see I am simply suggesting you train for a worthwhile job until you meet the right man."

Riddhima hung on to her temper. "There you go again, if I had a worthwhile job as you call it, I wouldn't want to pack it in when I married. You know something? It would serve you right if you fell madly in love with a highly successful career woman… What a laugh that would be."

"That's enough to put me off marriage completely."

"Good then I have done my good deed for the day." She said with the cheek of the young girl she was supposed to be." I'll have saved some poor female from the clutches of a chauvinist."

He chuckled. "You and your sharp tongue… be careful you don't cut yourself with it."

"It will more likely cut you."

"Is that so?" he said, straightening and pulling her against his chest. "Let's see you try."

But he gave her no chance, for his lips fastened on hers; making it impossible for her to do anything other than stand like a statue or respond. But the warmth of his lips, their softness, their gentle pressure, made it inevitable that she return the passion swiftly growing in him, a passion that increased as her mouth parted beneath his and he found her tongue to be not sharp, as he had said, but sweet and soft, Its warm moisture tantalizing him.

With a muttered imprecation, he drew her down upon the sofa, pressing her back until she was lying flat upon the cushions, her slender body open to his gaze as he raised his head to survey her. Her skirt had ridden high, disclosing a bare thigh and shapely leg and her T-shirt was tight across her bosom, showing their full curves.

Aware of his eyes ranging over her body, Riddhima trembled, every part of her pulsatingly alive to his burning blue gaze. Her thighs quivered and her stomach tingled.

As the heat of desire burned inside her, she was terribly afraid of her vulnerability to this man. Yet in a strange way she was enjoying the experience. Her sexual awareness of Armaan, her craving for fulfillment, showed her with clarity she couldn't deny that work was no longer going to be enough for her. She needed a man to love, she needed to receive and to give…

She needed Armaan. With a low moan, she lifted her arms and clasped them around his neck, aware of his tensing at her touch. He tried to pull away but she'd have none of it, half lifting herself towards him and arching her back as she did. It was a provocative gesture and it worked, for with sudden fierceness he pushed her on the cushions again and fell upon her.

Riddhima sank deeper into the softness, loving the weight of Armaan's body on hers, the heat of his mouth as he began kissing her again, deep, hungry kisses of consuming intensity.

His tongue was fierce, urgent but his searching hands were gentle, caressing her neck, lifting the T-shirt to feel the bare skin, and arousing her… Her own hands trailed over his muscled chest, the fine line of his back… At her touch he gasped and lifting his head from her mouth, tailed a line of wet kisses on her neck… Hi s hands stroked her skin…, his fingers gently moving lower… moving over her thighs… She gave a tremulous moan, her lips parting to nibble his ear, so hungry for him that she was conscious of nothing other than appeasement.

He muttered deep in his throat, his limbs shaking as though with fever, " Riddhima no, we shouldn't"

"Please" she whispered

"No" wrenching himself away from her, he straightened her T-shirt and smoothed her skirt, then quickly lifting her into sitting position. "I must be out of my mind. I don't know what came over me. I am practically old enough to be your……"

"To be my lover." Riddhima interrupted

"Don't even think about it." His expression was grim " You are still a kid an I should be shot for taking advantage of you."

"How can you take advantage of me when I am willing?" I didn't push you away, did I?"

"That only makes me feel worse, you are a warm, generous-hearted girl and…" he stopped and frowned. " Too warm and too generous, if you act like this with every man who touches you, you will…."

"I don't act this way with anyone else," She reiterated " Now you are accusing me for another thing."

"I am sorry." As he went on regarding her, a puzzled frown marked his forehead " what have you done to your hair? It's different"

"I thought you'd never notice… Do you like it?"

"Very much." He smoothed a silky, black wave from her forehead. " It makes you look a little older."

"I am not a baby." She insisted "Many girls of my age are already married."

"Married? For God's sake Riddhima I am 10 years older than you…." As if lanced by a knife he jumped on his feet and headed for the door. "I must be going… It's late."

"I don't have a rope Armaan." She called

"A what?" he swung round to look at her.

"I can't lasso you and tie you to me. All I said was, some girls my age are already married but I didn't mean I wanted to be."

He swallowed visibly "I am glad to hear that."

"I am quite prepared to be your girl friend though."

"Stop it Riddhima" he burst out "Don't read so much into a kiss."

"Didn't it mean anything to you then?"

"It meant enough for me to know I won't let it happen again."

'That's what you think' she told herself

"About Miss Gupta's bracelet." Armaan said and Riddhima tensed. If he asked her once again to return it, she'd kill him.

"Yes?" she queried

"I don't believe you took it. It must have been a burglar."

She went weak with relief and felt a surprisingly silly desire to burst into tears. "Actually I… er… Miss gupta took it with her and forgot to tell the house keeper..." She stated

"When did you find out?"

"When I came back from London and heard it was missing. I told… I mean we called Miss Gupta in London."

He strode back to the couch. "Why the hell didn't you tell me instead of letting me think the worst of you?"

"And spoil you fun? You have always given the impression you enjoy thinking the worst of me."

He looked ashamed which was unusual for Armaan and with a tentative gesture he reached out and ran the tip of one finger down the side of her cheek…

"I have never known a girl who puts me in the wrong as often as you."

She replied cheekily "Remember that under your cold shower tonight, Mr. Mallik."

"I think that's what I like about you."
"My sex appeal?"

"No, your sense of humor, silly"

She pulled a face at him "One can't be passionate all the time and its important to be able to laugh at the same things."

Riddhima couldn't imagine him and Anjali sharing a joke but refrained from saying so, knowing men disliked it when women were bitchy about one another. Unfortunately her thoughts were apparent on her face, for Armaan gave her a reproving tap on her head.

"Anjali has other qualities, my dear,. Anyways, she's no competition for you."

"Honestly?" Riddhima beamed, ready to throw herself into his arms.

"Honestly, you are not long out of the school room and she and I are……"

"I know where you both are." Riddhima interrupted.

"I am not rejecting you" He said gently proceeding towards the door "But we don't tread the same path my dear and soon we will be diverging completely."

She was still thinking of a suitable answer when he closed the door behind him…

She came back to present with a loud ring of bedroom phone… After few rings Armaan answered the call… Riddhima got up and tried to hear the conversation but couldn't as he was talking so softly…

Bedroom (Telephone Conversation)

Armaan: Hello

Voice: Hey Darling!

Armaan: "Hey sweetheart!" in a watery voice

Voice: What's wrong Armaan? Why are you crying?

Armaan: I am not crying

Voice: you can't lie to me and you know that…I know you inside out… So cut this crap and tell me what's wrong? Is Riddhima fine?

Armaan: Yes she is fine

Voice: Then what's wrong?

Armaan: "She hates me muski" Armaan blinked hard to stop his tears

Muskaan: Rubbish! She loves you Armaan…

Armaan: But she said she hate me.

Muskaan: Armaan please stop crying. I can't see you like this… You know how important you are for me… You are my only family…
Armaan: "Only family?" Armaan wiped his tears

Muskaan: Now stop crying or else I'll also cry… You want me to cry

Armaan: No I don't want you to cry… and you are a blackmailer muski… and by the way if I am your only family then what about Atul?

Muskaan: Ok fine… you and Atul

Armaan: Where is champ?

Muskaan: Sleeping… he is such a useless Husband I tell you… most of the time he is in office and remaining time he sleeps like Kumbhkaran

Armaan: Well I don't blame him … he told me its getting tougher every day to deal with your mood swings… You sent him to bring Ferrero Rocher for you at 3 in the morning and poor him when he came back you were snoring.

Muskaan: I am pregnant Armaan I can't help with my mood swings… and he came back after half an hour… I was very tired so I slept… and I don't snore… huh

Armaan: yeah right…poor Atul

Muskaan: Armaan stop making fun of me

Armaan: Ok Sweet heart… It's you 8th month right?

Muskaan: Yes

Armaan: Ok

Muskaan: Armaan?

Armaan: Hmm?

Muskaan: You are ok na?

Armaan: Hmm… Ya I am fine… Don't worry

Muskaan: Where is Riddhima? Is she still awake?

Armaan: "No, she is sleeping" after a pause "In the sitting room"

Muskaan: WHAT? IN SITTING ROOM… WHY?

Armaan: Don't shout Muski… you will wake Atul up… I just told you she hates me… what do you expect? A person, who hates me the most in this world, will share the same bed with me… Come on muski… Stop over reacting

Atul woke up with Muskaan's loud screaming what…

Muskaan: HE IS ALREADY UP… DON'T GIVE ME THAT CRAP ARMAAN… WHAT THE HELL IS SHE DOING THERE IN PARIS IF SHE HATES YOU SO MUCH…? YOU GUYS ARE ON YOUR HONEYMOON RIGHT? WHY THE HELL IS SHE SLEEPING IN ANOTHER ROOM?

Armaan: Stop shouting muski… Will you?

Muskaan: NO I WON'T…NOW ANSWER ME

Armaan: How would I know muski… it's her decision… ask her… why you are shouting at me…

"What's wrong Muskaan?" Asked worried Atul

"I am talking to Armaan… Can't you see?" answered irritated Muskaan

"I know you are talking to Armaan but I want to know what the problem is. Why are you shouting? What's wrong with Armaan? Is Riddhima fine? Atul asked

"usko kia hona hai.. She is torturing my Armaan… Your stupid idiot friend is sleeping in the sitting room."

"Muskaan stop over reacting Honey" Atul tried to relax her

Armaan: Muski… Atul… hello… Guys I am still on the phone… Stop fighting…

Atul: Don't get hyper Muskaan it's not good for the baby… Give me the phone… Let me talk to him…

Muskaan: ok… you talk to him… I am going to order Pizza… I am hungry…

Atul: Pizza? Look at the time baby….

Muskaan: So what… I am pregnant

Atul: Muskaaaaan…huh

Armaan: Hello… guys… Muski… Champ…

Atul: Hey Armaan

Armaan: finally… Thank God you guys stopped fighting

Atul: Her mood swings… I tell you… Anyways you tell me bro what's wrong?

Armaan: Everything is going against me champ… I don't know what to do now…

Atul: Why is she sleeping in the sitting room?

Armaan: She doesn't want to share the same bed with me… I let her sleep on the couch last night because…

Atul: Because?

Armaan: I thought sofa must be very uncomfortable and she would come to sleep on the bed… I didn't want to sleep without her but she is so stubborn that she didn't come to sleep here… She slept on that couch whole night…

Atul: poor girl… she is sleeping on the couch.

Armaan: No… Before going out for dinner I instructed the room service to replace the couch with sofa come bed… so that she can sleep properly… I knew she won't let me sleep there now… sharing the bed with me is out of question.

Atul: What are you going to do now?

Armaan: Don't know

Atul: Listen… Do you want me to tell her the truth about the clause in your uncle's will?

Armaan: No… Not now.

Atul: Sure?

Armaan: Yes

Atul: Try to sleep Armaan it's very late and don't worry bro everything is going to be ok… me and Muskaan are always there for you.

Armaan: Yeah… Thanks dude

Atul: when are you coming back?

Armaan: After 2 days

Atul: Ok then see ya… bye

Armaan: Atul listen

Atul: Yes Armaan?

Armaan: Please take care of Muskaan

Atul: Yes I will… Don't worry

Armaan: Bye
.............................
Annu

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