Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Part 20 :It all Depends on Love(AR)



His fingers grazed the soft line of her cheek… he said lazily "You are beautiful, my love… I'd like nothing more than to make love to you again right now, but I think one of us should be ready to answer the door to our guests."

Her hand flew to her mouth in horror


"The dinner party... The door bell could ring at any moment"

She snatched up her clothes that were scattered on the carpet and scrambled into them. Amusement tugged at the corners of Armaan's mouth as he helped her fasten her zip and dropped a kiss on her nape as he finished.

"Do I look all right?" she asked, her cheeks flushed

He drew her into his arms. "Relax." He teased "You look gorgeous and don't worry about Niki… I'll handle her…"

She kissed him and flew into the dinning room to check the final arrangements for the dinner… hardly had she had time to ask Sarah about the arrangements… The door bell rang and Armaan ushered Atul and Muskaan into the lounge.

She joined them from the Kitchen… The four of them were chatting easily when the doorbell heralded the arrival of more friends.

The first half hour flew by. Amid the lively buzz of conversation and laughter Riddhima glanced across the room at Armaan. The smile they exchanged was as intimate as a caress. Now that the misunderstanding between them was cleared up, she found she was no longer troubled by the prospect of having to entertain her spiteful Sister.

Niki and Rahul arrived some forty minutes late. Playing the part of the dutiful hostess, Riddhima introduced Niki to other guests. From her manner no one would have known that she and Riddhima actually hate each other. But Riddhima knew there was still a glint of anger in Niki's eyes as over dinner her gaze shifted several times from Armaan to Riddhima and then back to Armaan again. Irritated by the rapport between them, Niki said "Riddhima, you must let me have the recipe for this chocolate Cake. It's simply mouth watering."

Riddhima suspected her sister knew she hadn't made it herself, and sensing the tension Muskaan intervened with humour "Do you even know the difference between salt and Sugar Niki? You sure you want to bake this cake?"

The others laughed and Niki fumed... Riddhima smiled, pleased that the meal had been appreciated and thinking she must thank Sarah for her help… She went into the kitchen… She was helping Sarah making coffee in the kitchen when Niki came in and offered to lend a hand

"I can manage, thank you." Riddhima said coolly as she set out the cups.

Niki perched elegantly on the stool

"I see I am still out of favour for what I said the other day." She commented mockingly

"Very much out of favour." Said Riddhima, her eyes sparking. She had trusted her sister and she could not readily forgive her lies "In fact, I didn't expect you to come this evening."

"Why?" she asked arching her eyebrow "Didn't it get to you what I told you about Armaan and me?" Niki laughed

"Yes, that was your intention, wasn't it?" Riddhima said quietly "You hoped with your lies you could get me to leave Armaan and just in case it didn't work you gave Abhi my address hoping to cause more trouble. I am sure it was you who gave him my address, right?"

Niki get to her feet, taunting expression on her face replaced by anger as riddhima confronted her with the truth.

"You should have married Abhi." She hissed "Armaan belonged to me."

"No he didn't, but you'd have liked him to. He loves me"

"God, you're naive." Niki exclaimed "you still believe in fairytale romance, don't you?"

"I feel sorry for you Niki, you are sick." Riddhima said, meaning it

"Feel sorry for yourself, little sis." Niki snapped "Your marriage is on the shakier ground."

"You are jealous, jealous that I am happy with Armaan."

"Jealous" Niki snapped her fingers "I could take him away from you like that… And if you don't believe me, just watch."

A man's voice enquired "watch what?"

Niki turned around to see Rahul standing in the doorway "Watch what, di?" Rahul repeated

Irritated by Rahul's interruption "you have such a gift for butting in when you are not wanted, bro" saying so she went out of the kitchen

"What's wrong, sis" Rahul asked putting his arm around her shoulder

"Nothing." Riddhima said as a lone tear escaped her eyes

"Tell me what the hell is wrong."

"She wants me out of Armaan's life." Riddhima said sobbing

"What are you tolerating her nonsense for? Just ask her to leave your house now."

"Not now Rahul… There are so many guests here right now… I don't want to create a scene in front of them."

"Promise me you'll ask her to leave tomorrow morning… or else I'll do it."

"I will ask her to leave" Riddhima promised

**********


Riddhima came out f the kitchen after few minutes, Sarah following her with coffee cups… She saw Niki talking to Armaan… Riddhima glanced at Armaan, too sure of her relationship with him to feel uneasy or jealous… Armaan caught her eye, the lazy glint in his gaze deliberately reminding her of their passionate lovemaking… She coloured prettily and resumed her conversation with one of his business associate

Armaan's another business associate Mathew (Rude, Stupid, Idiot, Moron and most arrogant) was the first one to say "We must be going. It's even later than I realized."

The other guests lingered for a while and then they too decided that it was time to leave. Armaan put his arm around riddhima as they stood at the front door and she she waved goodbye as Atul and Muskaan's car drove away.

They went back into the lounge, where Riddhima kicked off her stilettos… She sat down on the sofa, realizing that, thanks to Niki, the evening had been something of a strain

"I am glad it went off so well." She commented

Armaan joined her on the sofa. He put his arm around her, fitting the curves of her body to his as he drew her close. "You were terrific… the perfect hostess, especially the way you handled Niki… She may be your sister but she needs……"

"……to be thrown out of this house." Rahul intervened entering in the lounge

"Rahul please." Riddhima tried to protest

"Sis you promised… remember?" Rahul said

"Do you guys mind telling me what's going on here?" Armaan asked

"Well sis promised me to throw Niki out of here tomorrow morning."

"Really?" Armaan arched his eyebrow

"Not tomorrow… After coming back from my business trip."

"You can never ask her to leave Riddhima." Armaan said smiling sarcastically

"When are you leaving for your business trip?" asked Rahul

"Tuesday."

"All right then… I'll see you guys tomorrow… Good night."

"I don't like working women." Armaan said as Rahul left "I want my wife to make babies and look after my house only" Armaan said smiling wickedly

"Chauvinist" she said, punching him playfully on the chest

"Aren't I?" He laughed, grazing her temple with his lips "I'll miss you baby."

She closed her eyes and laid her head against his shoulder… She was almost dozing off when he scooped her in his arms "Put me down Armaan… I'd better go to the kitchen and see everything is tidy."

"Leave it." He answered "I'll see to it… you change and go to bed, you are tired."

Too sleepy to argue, she did as he said. She left the bedside lamp on for him as she slipped between the covers, but though she was comfortable and drowsy she didn't drift off completely until he joined her.

She whispered his name, her body relaxing against the warm strength of his. His hand stroked the slim plane of her back… Kissing him absently she fell asleep on a soft contented sigh.
************

It was Tuesday morning and she was pouring coffee when Armaan joined her in the dinning room. He had showered and was dressed in a grey business suit. She knew that he planned to work from home until mid day…

They chatted about anything and everything as they had their breakfast.

"Will Niki be staying here in your absence?" Armaan asked

Riddhima nodded

"Riddhima, I Think you should tell her to move somewhere else before leaving for your business trip."

"Please Armaan… Let her stay she won't be a problem… Rahul is here to handle her… she'll not bother you."

"Rahul is here on holiday… not to handle her psycho sis… he is just a kid Riddhima…"

"You are talking like Dad now Armaan… he is not a kid anymore…"

"Whatever Riddhima... Just make sure she stays away from me." he warned her "By the way, Rahul will go to Sanjivani electronics with me… I need his signatures on some papers."

"Ok… My flight will take off by 2:30pm… I'll call you before leaving."

"Ok baby… I'll miss you." Armaan said pouting

Riddhima expected to shrug on her jacket, pick up her car keys and leave the house without much ado but to her surprise Armaan caught her hand as she got up to leave

"What?" She arched her brow

"Don't go." He said hugging her

"Armaan, you know I have to go."

She reached on the tip toe to graze his cheek with her lips but not satisfied with a fleeting embrace, he pulled her into his arms. He explored her mouth thoroughly before raising his head.

"Have a Good day." He said, his caressing voice sending a thrill down her spine

"You too." She murmured huskily

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


It was almost midnight and she was sitting up in bed, her brows drawn together in concentration as she pondered over a business problem, when the phone rang. Tossing the case study aside, she answered the call

"Armaan!" She exclaimed with a little laugh of pleasure as she heard his voice "I didn't think you'd call so late."

"They are certainly working you hard… I gave you a call half an hour ago but your cell was switched off."

"The meeting finished officially two hours ago." She told him "But as none of us had come up with the solution to our problem, we adjourned to the restaurant to carry on it."

"Did you come up with the solution in the end?" he asked

"Not one we could agree on," She said with a smile "I am trying to find one now."

"It sounds a lonely way to pass the night."

The sensual note in his voice quickened her pulse. Cradling the phone against her ear, she said softly, her voice husky "It is, I miss you."

"I miss you too."

She found she was smiling as she disconnected the call. Her last thought as she drifted off to sleep that night was that they would soon be together again.

She returned to London on Friday morning and planned to stop off home before driving to the office to inform Atul about the trip. She had made good time on the journey and she wondered if she might just catch Armaan before he left for work.

But his car wasn't in the drive and the house quiet as she let herself in. Telling herself it was silly to feel disappointed when she would see him that evening, she took her weekend back suitcase upstairs.

She walked into the bedroom, and then halted in the doorway, frozen with shock and horror. Her sister lay asleep in the double bed which still bore the imprint of where Armaan had lain beside her. She was utterly naked.

The suit case fell from Riddhima's numbed hand. So many emotions were surging through her that the room seemed to swirl dizzily. But above all, in that first sickening instant of shock, there was a mounting agony of pain.

Woken by the thud of the suitcase, Niki stirred, she murmured Armaan's name drowsily before turning over and opening her eyes.

"Riddhima" Niki gasped, reaching for the sheet and pulling it up to cover herself

White with the frightful thrust of her sister's betrayal, Riddhima said, her voice low and trembling "You Bitch!"

"I… I never thought you'd be back so early."

"Obviously!" fury rose up inside her. Picking up the first item of her sister's clothing that came to hand, she threw them at her. "Get dressed and get out of here… I could kill you for this."

Niki slithered out of bed, keeping the sheet wrapped round her.

"There is no need to fling my clothes at me." She snapped

"Count yourself lucky I don't fling you into the street this minute like the tramp you are." Riddhima hissed, her eyes burning

She swept out of the room, trembling with anger. She went downstairs to her room… Riddhima's heart was pounding… she clamped her throat shut to stifle the sobs that shook her shoulders… She would not give way to tears… she would not… Her sister's triumph was great enough without letting her see that she was being torn apart by the proof of her husband's infidelity.

Anita (Annu)

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