Monday, 2 April 2018

part 66 : An Arranged love Marriage



Done with the last meeting for the day he walked away as it was nearly lunch time. Most of the people had dispersed already for their break as he walked down the empty passage. Riddhima wasn't so happy as he had told her off for a lunch together as he knew if the meeting lasted long the lunch would be delayed and he did not want her to wait. He smiled thinking of the glare she had thrown his way as she walked out of his cabin with a pout. Lost in his own thoughts he just scrolled through his phone heading towards his cabin, but a small meek muffled voice caught his attention. It wasn't clear but he could it seemed like someone was crying. It was quite odd since no body was around, but the sound was clear. It was directed from the small pantry in the left, his feet automatically took a turn.
As he peeked in he found the source of the voice, and the sight left him confused. Raina, one of his marketing team member, was in there crying her heart out, though her hand rested against her mouth probably trying to stifle her cries. For a moment he contemplated if he should even bother to ask, because she clearly needed some space but she looked quite shook. So after looking around and thinking for a few moments he decided to just go in.

The minute she heard some voice, Raina turned around and found Armaan standing right in front and she quickly cleared her tear stained face as he cleared his throat. Embarrassment flushed through her entire face, and everything grew quiet before he finally thought of breaking the ice. Though she brushed it off initially and he did not poke the matter much knowing well it was her personal matter, but then her cell phone beeped; loud and suddenly in the quiet room and she flinched hard.  Her reaction definitely surprised him and she placed her phone away which caught his attention and he instantly knew something was definitely wrong. She looked clearly terrified and without thinking much he placed a hand on her shoulder in an attempt to soothe her to which she flinched but then instantly relaxed as she found Armaan staring down at her with concern;
"Hey relax... what's wrong? It's okay, I understand it's personal and I don't mean to interfere or bother you, but you should calm down. Please go ahead and take a break, do you want me to call someone you could talk to?
Though she was a bit scared and awkward at first, after all having the Boss witness you in such a vulnerable state wasn't such a great experience. Obviously his image also wasn't very friendly, not that he was arrogant or ruthless, but he definitely was quite serious about his work and she knew he was a no-nonsense guy when it came to work. But all the thoughts disappeared as the ringing phone was the only thing clouding her mind, and as he calmly stood by her side giving her support she couldn't hold back anymore and broke into sobs. Armaan held onto her shivering hand trying to calm her but apparently she seemed quite disturbed, and clearly she wasn't going to be talking much to him. All that she had answered was the person calling her who seemed to have disturbed her so much was her fianc. Armaan quietly held her hand for a few minutes trying to soothe her as she cried, and when he sensed her get a little better he peeked out to see if anybody was around. To his luck, he found Riddhima walking in a she had left her phone on her desk. As she looked up and found him by the pantry she was a little confused, but he was thankful for her presence. He quickly signaled her through his hands to come up but she wasn't so willing to oblige. Armaan sighed and called her once again and she read the urgency in his eyes, she walked up to him when she noticed another presence in the room and looked up at him. Armaan held Riddhim's hand walked up to Raina;
"Raina... it's alright I wi---

 "I am fine Sir... Thanks, and sorry for my behavior.
Raina instantly apologized now embarrassed at the situation but he instantly shook his head. He knew she was friends with Riddhima so it would help;
"Don't worry, I won't judge. You take a break and if you need you can take the day off.

"Raina... kya hua? Tum ro rahi thi?
She questioned her but Raina stayed silent so Riddhima just looked up at Armaan. Though Raina didn't know that Riddhima was his wife, it was still unknown to some people; especially new joiners like Raina, but she was already embarrassed to say anything further. But Armaan broke the silence as he turned to Riddhima;
"She seems to be having a bad day. Tum ruko yaha and talk to her, I will leave. Let me know if there's anything! And don't forget to have your lunch, it's already late.
He gave Riddhima a meaningful look instructing both of them and she simply nodded as he left and the next minute Raina was in tears again.
-------------------------

It had been 4 hours now and there was still no sign of Riddhima. The last he spoke to her was when he left for a site in the evening and he had asked her to wait for him as he would pick her up on the way home. But when he had gotten back, the guards informed him that she had already left. Though she wasn't home yet and that's when worry pretty much started kicking in. There had been a call from her around 6 but he had missed it and then she had just left a message that she would be a little late. But that wasn't enough to keep him settled and calm especially when the clock already struck 9 and she still wasn't here. Anger had already started replacing the concern and he desperately wanted to know where she was, but for some reason she wouldn't answer the phone or the messages. By now even Ananya and Billy were tensed but they did not say anything knowing well that Armaan was already quite upset, worried to say the least. Finally around 10 when he was just about to call the guards at office to look around and walk out himself to look for her, he received a call from her. Relief rushed through him as he heard her voice but anger soon took over;
"Armaan... I am sorry main phone nahi kar paayi. Main theek hu ba----

"Kaha ho?

"Maine bas Park Lane cross kiya h----

"10 minutes! I want you right in front of me in 10 minutes!
With that the line went dead and she kept staring at the phone in her hand. The cold and hoarse voice on the other end gave her an idea of how pissed he was. He had clear idea that it took at least another half hour, to the most cut down to 20 minutes from there, but his words gave her an idea that he did not seem to care. She made a futile attempt to call back but as expected he did not pick up.

As soon as she entered, she saw Armaan telling Ananya and Billy to go and rest as it was already quite late but soon everyone went quiet as she walked in. The look Armaan threw at her was enough to let her know that he wasn't happy, and she felt guilty as ever as Ananya and Billy too looked up at her and a sense of relief washed through them but did no good to her.
"I am sorry I got everyone worried. Mom Dad meri vajah se aap ab tak jag rahe hai... I am sorry, main call nahi kar paayi. Aap please mujhe maaf kar deejiye, aur jaake aaram keejiye bohot der ho gayi hai.

She then turend to Armaan and started explain but his face said it all;
"I really did not mean to do this Armaan, vo main-----

A Deja-vu feel surrounded her as he looked at her with same fury in his eyes just like last time, except that this time it was multiplied 4 times. It looked like he could punch a hole straight through her skull by his stare alone.
"It's too early to be back Riddhima! You might as well have waited a little more, there's still time for mid night!
Ananya pressed a hand against his shoulder as she could see he was burning with rage;
"Armaan beta----

"Mom you better not defend her this time I beg of you!

"Par meri baat to suniye, mujhe pata nahi tha itni der ho jayegi. Aur mujhe realize hi nai hua itni der ho gayi hai. Aap itna ghussa kyu ho rahe hai, ek baar-----

Armaan strode towards her and uttered through his gritted teeth with an piercing gaze enough to seal her lips;
"Do I need to remind you the news you got me the last time you went missing!?
All her words and thoughts automatically dissolved right away as she realized his reason of anger and she did not have much to defend anymore;
"Do you have any idea how worried I was, I was scared to death! It was-----

"Armaan I--- I am sorry. I really am.
Apology was the only sensible thing she could think of at that moment, though she had a justification but the guy needed to cool down so she had a chance to explain. But somehow it only backfired.
"You can fuc**** go to hell with that apology!

Billy snapped at him instantly as she flinched;
"Armaan language! ... I know she is wrong here, but you must behave.

"Riddhima... beta this behavior is not expected of you!
Billy scolded her for the first time ever and she hung her head in guilt.
"I know Dad... I promise I won't let this repeat. Main kisi ko pareshaan nahi karna chahti thi ma---

"Huh... Right!
Armaan huffed and rolled his eyes at her words, throwing a last glare her way he was off to his room unbuttoning his shirt on the way now that he could finally relax and freshen up.
-------------

Riddhima spoke to Ananya and Billy and explained the situation who immediately forgave her but her husband did not seem to be interested in anything she had to say. The guy was just been a tough nut to crack, she made many attempts to persuade him but he did not leave any chance. By the time she was back to their room last night he was already under the duvet fast asleep, or probably pretending to be. In the morning he had left early too, and right now she just sat sulking in the meeting room as he had called them up for some important discussion.
"Ye bhi na pata nahi itna bhaav kyu kha rahe hai? Ab aur kitni der muh fulakar baithenge, subah naashta bhi kiye begair nikal gaye. Aur janaab ki in bachkani harkaton ke liye koi inse kuch na kahe... ye acha hai!
Rahul chuckled as he could not hear anything but could see her muttering something with an annoyed face. Riddhima glared at him and rolled her eyes ignoring him, just when Armaan entered in. The first few minutes everything seemed all right, as normal and professional that it could seem like any other day, but then the next topic turned out to be a little problematic;
"So now a very urgent matter that I had to discuss is about Shelby. Mr. Richard will be coming down to India this month. Par unke aane ki dates fix nahi hui hai ab tak. Now the problem is, Dubai ka campaign and conference bhi isi month scheduled hai aur in dono projects ke presentations is waqt bohot important hai. Mr. Zacharia aap in dono projects per reh chuke hai right?

"Jee sir.

"The last time Richard visited you were here for the meeting, and you are quite aware of this entire project, so main chahta hu ki aap yaha ho is meeting ke liye. I will have to be here kyunki vo mujhse milna chahte hai so main Dubai nahi ja paunga, par aapki team mein se hi kisika vaha hona jaroori hai, jo is project mein throughout raha ho. It will take almost until the start of next month, sare campaigns aur conference handle karne mein. Though it's initial stage par it's quite critical. So Rohan? Can you be there?

"Sir I most definitely would have, but as you already know my wife's condition----

"Oh yes... I am sorry, it completely skipped my mind. So then I guess Mrs. Mallik you have also been on the project throughout so you will have to take his place then. What do you think Rohan?

"No problem Sir... and I think it works well, she is good with presentations after all.

Riddhima eyes and head shot up at this suggestion and she simply stared at him before being able to open her mouth;
"Next month----- But I have never been to such conference before.

"I know and that is why it's a great opportunity Mrs. Mallik, aapko acha exposure aur experience milega.

"Par Mr. Mallik --- vo---- I mean... Zacharia jee ye sab pehle handle kar chuke hai, unke jaisa koi experienced vaha ho toh acha hoga.
She desperately suggested looking to and fro between Mr. Zacharia and Armaan, why was he suggesting this after all? Did he not know why she couldn't be there around that time!? Sensing her disturbed look, the guy who was almost in his late forties smiled at her and quickly suggested;
"That's alright with me Sir, agar Riddhima Shelby pe kaam karna chahti hai, I don't mind being at Dubai.

Riddhima smiled at him gratefully, he had always been a sweet fatherly figure to her and always helped her out. But her happiness was short-lived as Armaan intervene;
"Uhuh... I appreciate it, but as I said I want you on this project rather than at Dubai. No doubt you can handle that too in your best way, but mere liye aapka is project pe hona jyaada jaroori lagta hai.

"Lekin Mr. Mallik----
Riddhima tried to retort but he turned to her instantly almost knowing she would say something;
"In any other situation main Rohan ko bhej deta, ya khud chale jaate but right now as you can see both of them is not possible you need to decide Mrs. Mallik. No doubt Shelby is a bigger and more dynamic opportunity, aur Mr. Zacharia's experience would be great to take care of it. But that's not the only reason, there are a few more aspects as well. I know it's new for you, and sometimes it's good to be nervous, but I am sure you will blend in very well. Par uske alawa agar aur koi justified reason nahi hai toh aapko Dubai jana chahiye. For both, experience and the need of time. I won't force you, but I would appreciate you stepping in by yourself, varna I always can find someone to fill the place, after all ye ek achi opportunity hai and anyone would be glad to take it up.

All the eyes were now glued on her and she felt like a lost puppy. The biggest reason for her denial was their first anniversary which was just around the corner and he was well aware. He still behaved so clueless but she knew that there was not much to argue, considering it was also needed for someone to be present there and if she denied it will only look bad.
"Theek hai Sir, I will go to Dubai.

"Hmm... great, then Rahul tum bhi vaha Saket aur Naina ke saath join karo, aur Rohan you can decide tum team mein se graphics aur marketing ke liye kise bhejna chahte ho. And Mrs. Mallik you can go through the rough presentation that was made and get a report done on it so that you get the details properly.
-----------------

That was that and he had walked out for another meeting since 2 hours ago while she was fuming. Not only was she unhappy about this arrangement, but a few colleagues who did know of her being his wife were all busy cursing him. Because apparently to them it only looked like he was snatching off an excellent opportunity from her in order to show the upper hand like any other jealous-insecure husband.  Though they weren't talking in front of her but she had heard it, and clearly on the face from people who did not know of their relation. Everyone thought he was doing it for his ego issues, and all she wanted to do was give them a piece of mind but she knew better than creating a scene. Though her patience was slipping as she could see how unreasonable he was being. It was pretty much unlike him but he was letting their personal fight take a toll and send her away just to make her feel bad. That was so unfair and heartless of him and she was definitely going to have a word.

Armaan was too busy on his phone as he walked down the passage but she was instantly up on her toes. As he walked in the cabin she was right behind him even before he could shut the door. For a minute he was startled by her sudden appearance but he did not respond and simply made his way to his seat as he continues his conversation completely ignoring her. Riddhima waited quietly for him to finish his call, he had looked up at her once as if questioning her presence but there after he did not even care to acknowledge. As he ended the call she was all set to throw her questions at him but he never gave her the chance. He had already called in for Juhi to tell her of the changes he had just discussed with the client while Riddhima just sat there clueless and unnoticed. But finally as she left Riddhima quickly spoke up before he could find out another way to avoid her;
"Armaan aap ye kya kar rahe hai? And I thought YOU had asked ME to not let our personal matters affect out professional life!

"Do you have anything to discuss with me, because I am really busy right now!

"Armaan!!
She whined at his stubborn attitude only to be snapped back in a sharp tone he rarely used on her letting her know she wasn't talking to her husband but her Boss right now;
"Mrs. Mallik! I think you have a list of things to do right now, aapke paas waqt nahi hai yaha baithke fizul ki baatein karne ka. And it would be nice if you keep in mind who you are talking to!
That undoubtedly was his way to push her off and most rude behavior by far but she was definitely not willing to take it.

"Main bas baat karna chahti hu Armaan, aap kuch sunna hi nahi chahte toh main kya karu? Aur ye fizul ki baat nahi hai, main ek employee ke haq se bhi aapse yahi sawal kar sakti hu but I trust your decisions is liye main vo nahi karna chahti, par ek biwi ke haq se baat toh kar hi sakti hu na! Aap humare aapsi jhagde ko is tarah se kyu badhana chahte hai?

"Tum mujh pe iljaam laga rahi ho!

"Nahi, main bas jaan ne ki koshish kar rahi hu ki aap aisa kaise kar sakte hai? Just because I was wrong or you are upset, does not mean you send me away!
Riddhima desperately tried to make him see through this but he was least affected.

"I am not a kid to do that... I have my reasons, and I know what I am doing!

"I don't really think so...  aur ab kitni der aise hide and seek khelne wale hai aap mere saath?
Armaan rolled his eyes as she sighed and he could see her anger has washed out and she was just disappointed now simply trying to make him talk to her.

"I suppose tumhe jawab mil gaya hai toh-----

"Nahi... mujhe baat karni hai aapse, and I won't leave until you talk to me!
She stood with her arms crossed against her chest pouting at him.

"I don't really mind escorting you then.
He was up from his seat just to do as he had said which made her jaws drop to the floor, he could really be such a cruel heartless guy at times. In literal sense he was planning to kick her out of his cabin and he looked pretty serious and that only infuriated her.
"Armaan seriously? You wouldn't even give me a chance to speak when you don't even have an idea of what exactly happened?

"You think of things a little too late sweetheart, and I don't appreciate it.

"Hadh hai... Mana ho gayi hogi mujhse galti, par main bas itna hi chahti hu ki main khud aapko batau jo hua tha, taaki aap pareshaan na ho. Aapko ye kisi aur se pata chale ye bhi nahi chahti. Lekin nahi... Jaroori hai aapka har baat main akad dikhana?

"Mujhse behes karne mein bohot maja aata hai tumhe, huh? Par ye sab pehle nahi soch sakti thi, before getting me worried to death. But apparently you don't care enough to consider what I would have to go through!

His voice only doubled and hardened as she argued back;
"Chillaiye mat Armaan, office hai ye aapka ghar nahi. You are forgetting that a lot today it seems! And I don't think you are in a mood to listen to what I have to say so it's no use talking to you anymore.
She absolutely gave up on him and turned away to leave but was turned around harshly making her yelp in pain as he twisted her hand at her back;
"Ahhh... sss... Armaan kya----

"Kya hua tha kal? Kya batana chahti thi tum mujhe?

"Ughh... haath toh chodiye Armaan...aa... dard ho raha hai.

"Then start talking!
He twisted her wrist pulling her closer to force her look up into his eyes. She was practically jammed into his chest and he really had locked her wrist in a dead tight grip making her wince so she finally decided to blurt it out;
"Sss... Main... Raina ke saath thi. Uska fianc Kabir aaya tha usse milne aur vo milna nahi chahti thi use. Lekin vo yahi office ke paas tha, she could not just leave kyunki *hiss* her dad really wanted this to work out. He isn't such a great guy, unka jagda hua tha subah hi isi liye vo bohot pareshaan aur dari hui thi toh is liye main -----

"Tum kya?

"Maine ... Sss...aaa, Armaan...

 "Tumne kya kiya Riddhima?

"Ma...main uske saath chali gayi.

"YOU WHAT!?

"Sss... Aaa... Armaan; please haath chodiye it really hurts! Aapka haath lag raha hai... Please.
He finally loosened his grip seeing the pain reflect in her eyes but did not let go, instead he brought her up to his chest just holding it there, softly caressing it but his eyes depicted his anger had only multiplied by her words.

"Vo bohot dari hui thi Armaan, I couldn't leave her alone Please don't get mad. Main bas uski help karna chahti thi, aura cha hua I went with her. Kabir bohot ghussa tha, he wasn't treating her well, so she tried to tell him off when he got really mad at her. I tried to stop him and-----
She gulped before continuing as he suddenly let go her hand completely and stepped back. He had turned absolutely mum which was never a good sign. Nonetheless she continued just to get done with it;
"And he tried to... misbehave with me. But we fled away quickly aur kuch hua nahi... none of us got hurt.
She quickly finished seeing his red eyes and flaring nose much as expected.
"Aur immediately fir Raina ne apne bhai ko inform kiya tha who came to pick her up. After he heard everything he too understood the situation and they quickly went away to file an FIR too. Par Raina bohot dari hui thi isi liye main kuch waqt uske saath thi before they went to the police. Us sab mein mujhe phone ka hosh nahi raha Armaan. I really did not do it intentionally this time.

"And you think "kisiko ko kuch hua nahi, that is going to make me feel better?

"Nahi main bas... bata rahi thi that it did end well. And Raina can be all free now.

"Give me one good reason you think going alone was a good idea?
The straining nerves on his forehead gave out how he was trying to hold it in.

"Toh main kya karti, use akele toh nahi chod sakti thi us waqt Armaan! Aap meri jagah hote toh aap bhi yahi karte na! Ab hum is Dubai project ke baarein mein baat-----

"DO YOU REALIZE THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME, YOU FOOL! AGAR KUCH HO JATA TOH HOW WERE YOU GOING TO FIGHT BACK? WHAT IF HE HURT YOU----
He yelled at her cutting her words sharply and she flinched at his sudden outburst. Everything around grew too silent as he realized his voice boomed through the room. Though the glass door did not carry the voice outdoor he still looked out and found everyone busy in their own work and he sighed.
"I don't know if you don't really think before you do something or you just like to--- *sigh*

"Uff, ghussa karna toh jaise shauq ho gaya hai aapka By God. Can't we just discuss this? Aap kisi aur baat ka ghussa-----
Riddhima tried to defend a bit irritated rolling her eyes at his angry glare when he simply suggested with a final tone.

"Just leave Riddhima. I don't think I want to talk to you about anything right now!
-------------

Riddhima had no clue about dealing with her thick headed stubborn husband anymore, because one thing as for sure that, right or wrong, he was in no mood to listen to anything from her right now and so he WOULD NOT! Knowing him well she did not bother him again the whole day, of course he spoke to Raina later to make sure she was okay and everything was fine but that made no difference in his anger. Raina was still unaware that Riddhima was his wife but her respect nonetheless grew 10 folds for the guy. But on the other hand he had not had even a word with Riddhima after that and she had let that be as he wished, though the problem was that they were to attend an office party in the evening, and neither was in the mood to! Having no choice, both of them were already at the party just at two different corners. Just within half an hour Riddhima was already bored to death. Not only did she always hated the corporate parties, he wasn't by her side either today. Nonetheless she was too upset with everything and everyone by now, nothing was going well. The previous day had already been chaotic which had as expected left him worried and now upset, and now she was going to be away on their very first anniversary because he did not care to bargain. It had been a week since she had been excited and planning about stuff for the special day but everything was just going to go down the drain now. She looked across the room thinking about all these misfortunate things to see him all busy with a group of associates least bothered of his wife's whereabouts.
"Din ba din na aur sadu hote ja rahe hai. Kabse dekh bhi nahi rahe, jaante hai main kitni bore ho rahi hu yaha is boring si party mein par nahi, inhe koi fark hi nahi padta. Main bhi baat hi nahi karungi unse, ghussa dikhana mujhe bhi aata hai. Main ghar jau toh vo bhi manjoor nahi, acha khaasa ghar jaake chain se so jaati main, kya kaam hai mera is party mein? Main baat kar karke bhi kitni baatein kar lungi inse, ye sab bhi inhi ki tarah boring toh hai. Sab itni achi party mein aake bhi kaam ki baatein karna chahte hai, kya faayda...huh. Usse acha toh ek aur ghanta office mein hi ruk jaate. Aur ye janab... Inhone toh hadh paar kar di hai ab. Ab anniversary ke din bhi mujhe trip pe bhejna chahte hai. Uff... Jaan bujhke pareshaan karna chahte hai muhe aur kuch nahi.
She sat pouting at the bar far from the boring crowd after she was done with some chat (for formalities) with a few of them.

"Kya ho raha hai Riddhima, yaha akele ku baithi ho?
Raina had just noticed her sulking alone and walked up to have a chat to which she simply smiled. But she got a reply from Rahul who had just joined in too;
"Hona kya hai, firse jhagda kiya hoga kisi baat pe dono ne. Tabi toh dono aise do alag alag kono mein baithe hai.

Raina kept staring at him utterly confused only to be left shocked as he continued;
"Pata nahi tum dono ek chat ke neeche reh kaise lete ho. Ab kya kar diya Armaan ne?

"Whattt!? Ek chat ke neeche matlab?

"Haan Raina, unfortunately... humare sadu Boss also happens to be my husband!
Afterall majority of the crowd in the party being his associates knew of her more as his wife than his employee, there were only countable people around who were unaware of her being Mrs. Armaan Mallik, so letting one more person know did not make a huge difference.  But Raina was beyond surprised, she composed soon and a wide smile spread on her face;
"I did not have any idea, but yeah that makes a lot of sense now. Matlab I thought he was just being kind, mere baarein mein toh Sir pareshaan the hi and he really was being kind, par ab mujhe pata chala ki vo kal ke baarein mein mujhse kyu baat arna chahte the. I mean of course he was concerned, par unke ghusse ki vajah ab pata chali mujhe. Riddhima... Tum ne toh kuch kaha hota yaar mujhe. Shit... Vo kya soch rahe honge mere baarein mein.

"Unhe fursat hi kaha hai ghussa karne se aur utang patang se trip pe mujhe bhejne se jo vo tumhare baarein kuch galat soche.
Both Rahul and Raina sniggered at her comment while she huffed turning away. Her eyes somehow involuntarily followed his way and he even looked up knowingly only to ignore her the next minute and her jaws dropped to the ground;
"Dekha... itna attitude pata nahi kis baat ka jhaad rahe hai. Bhaad mein jaaye ab toh, main bhi jo jee mein aaye karungi, mujhe bhi nahi sunna kuch.

"Is it because of what happened yesterday. Oh God ... Of course it must be. I am so sorry Riddhima, meri vajah se-----

"Nahi Raina it nothing like that, have you not seen how crazy he goes when he is angry AUr fir mujhse ghussa hone ke liye toh unhe kisi vajah ki jaroorat bhi nahi padti!

"I am still sorry though. But now that I think of it... you both actually make a cute pair.

"Yeah right!
Riddhima snapped looking back at him making the two of them chuckle at her flaring nose. Unaware of her sulking self he was all busy in his own world adding t her annoyance. The guy really did not care anymore; did he? What husband sent their wife away on their very "first anniversary!? She really wanted to calm her nerves but nothing was helping, cursing him under her breath she turned towards the two smiling idiots who were busy looking at her giggling like fools. The bartender placed the drink tat Rahul had just ordered and that's what caught Riddhima's attention suddenly. Out of nowhere she had sudden urge to gulp the contents in the glass and that is what she did without another thought. Rahul's eyes had almost popped out of their sockets and Raina stood blinking at her as she placed the glass back on the counter after a bottoms-up.
"Jerry!! What the-----

Once that she managed to straighten her mouth adjusting to the bitter liquid she had just swallowed, she snapped;
"What!? I can't even drink now?

"Huh--- nahi... I mean tum------- he is a fool Riddhima, chodo use. I am sure he has some plan-----

"No, I don't care. Vo kare jo karna chahte hai, mujhe pareshaan karne mein bohot maja aata hai na unhe, to theek hai. Mujhe bhi fark nahi padta ab, main bhi ab jo jee mein aaye karungi, and because I feel like drinking I will drink!
With that announcement she ordered for another drink, this time a stronger mix and Rahul almost screamed mentally.
"Oh God, Jerry you are not thinking straight. Please stop, varna Armaan maar daalega mujhe!
But it all fell on deaf ears as she had already happily cherished another drink as if an everyday thing.

"I thought she does not drink!
Raina exclaimed looking at how effortlessly she drank, expect for a few faces that she made in between.

"Koi kuch nahi karega tumhe Spiky, main hu na!

"Of course tum ho hi, mere baad vo tumhara bhi toh khoon karega tumhe aise dekhke!

"I thought you weren't scared of him!

"Right now I am scared of you!!
Rahul retorted making her giggle like a school girl which unconsciously made him smile and he let go seeing her so carefree;
"Actually on other thought, you should just let lose for once. This is definitely going to be fun.
The smile on his face soon turned into a smirk, it wasn't every day that Riddhima lost control ao he thought it was just alright to let her be for once and just have some fun, of course only until he knew she could handle. Raina tried to stop her but Rahul did not let her and instead stood by her side listening to her banter, and after about 2 more drinks Rahul decided t call it off and look for Armaan but it was not needed anymore as he had walked in himself;
"What's happening here?

Armaan had obviously been watching her amidst his conversations, but since he had seen Rahul next to her he had gotten busy for a while knowing she had company. But he walked up as he sensed something fishy, and just as he reached she had banged the glass on the counter. Armaan stood still for a second trying to take in her look and act and the realization struck him hard, she was DRUNK!
"What the f***! Are you dr------

"She is so drunk dude, Best of luck with that!
Rahul sniggered finishing the sentence for him.

"You as*****... you were just watching!? You couldn't stop her!!

"Actually Sir vo Riddhima khud hi zid kar rahi thi. We tried-----
Raina tried to justify thinking Armaan would really be upset with her again.

"Arey Raina chill... It's okay, hum hai na we will handle her.
Rahul brushed it off seeing her turn nervous to get a hard glare from Armaan.

"Meri marjiii main kuch bhi karu... Aap jaaiye naaa, I'll be fine by myself here.
Though her speech slurred but she hadn't lost her control and was speaking quiet decently to be called drunk. The party was almost to its end so there weren't many people left anyway.
"Kya kar rahi ho Riddhima... Why are---

"Bola na... meri marzi! You... Go back Simon!! Go----
She pointed her finger at him almost poking his nose but staggered towards Raina who handled her in time. Luckily the alcohol hadn't turned her into a loud freak so she wasn't catching any attention, but her husband's entire attention for sure, and that was not really a good thing for her.
"Par mujhe nahi jana na kahi... main toh yahi baithungi! Aap jao... Karo apna kaam... Go go!
She ordered another repeat after she had tried to push him away making him fume at her and he snapped;
"Stop it Riddhima... That's really not such a great idea!

But obviously that did not help and she happily picked up the glass to be instantly dragged out of her hand by him;
"Ughhh mera glass vapas deejiye Armaan!

"What is the matter with you?

"Ab kya hai, main yaha baithi thin a chup chap aap mujhe yaha bhi pareshaan karne kyu aa gaye? Mera glass deejiye

"Kuch nahi dene wala main tumhe, haalat dekho apni. Pata----

"That's what you always do... You always want to control me. I want to drink Armaan, deejiyeee!
The words slipped out of her mouth without a thought and she clearly regretted them, but there was no backing away now. She might have not meant it but she did not care to correct it either because she was terribly upset with him. Rahul stopped smiling and Raina shifted uncomfortably as they realize it was no longer funny and she was completely out of it by now. His jaws tightened and he snapped a look;
"Fine then... Go ahead, do as you wish. Though don't complain later that I did not warn you!
She pouted as he glared at her and she just kept holding the glass looking up at him, probably contemplating if she should risk drinking it or not. Somehow today his anger only triggered her more and surprising herself she actually gulped the drink making both the on looking friends shake their head in regret. Armaan on the other hand simply wondered what had gotten into her! He knew she was angry too at him but he had not realized it to be this extent.
"Okay Jerry we get the point, ab bas karo varna you will get sick!

"Arey nahi nahi, why don't you encourage her some more! Abhi tak talli hui nahi hai vo, itni jaldi kya hai!?
Armaan snapped through his gritted teeth earning just a roll of eyes from him while Raina helped her stand straight. Armaan was about to hold her hand but she wasn't so much in favour of that so she turned away only to bump into Mr. Shah. He looked down at Riddhima who managed to catch hold of herself but suddenly grew conscious as he was an elder, very old associate and was really close to Armaan. Riddhima grew completely quiet and hung her head not knowing of many other choices, but a prominent pout on her lips with a child-like guilty-face gave away her lack of soberness. She was just thinking he must have obviously guessed she was drunk and being immature when he spoke up,
"Everything alright young lady?

Riddhima simply nodded still looking down while Raul simply smiled at the guy involving him in a small chat to distract him. Armaan shook his head as she still stood silently in front of him playing with her fingers probably too guilty to even apologize; so he stepped in and wound his arm around her which she did not make any attempts to retort to as Mr. Shah was still watching;
"It's just a bad timing, I will meet you up soon at the Axel meeting. Abhi I guess it's too late I shouldget her home.

"No problem Armaan, you both take care and stay blessed beta. Main chalta hu ab.
Armaan smiled at him afterall he had always been a fatherly figure and Armaan knew he wouldn't judge but that was not what he was worried about. The girl just had million ways of giving him a heart attack. The minute Mr.Shah left Riddhima started to struggle in his arms when he turned to her;
"Enough!

"Chodiye mujhe. I don't want to come with you-----
Riddhima tried to fight back when he cupped her jaw with his single hand, harder; forcing her to look up at him;
"I said Enough! Look at me... LOOK AT ME!!
He repeated every word with emphasis looking square in her eyes capturing and she had no choice but to look up;
"You will stop this craziness right away and come with me! Kar liya na jo karna tha... ab ghar chalo. Enough for the day!
Riddhima wanted to retort, he wasn't being loud or angry at the moment, but even in her drunk state she could see he meant every word and wasn't really happy at the moment. He wasn't being authoritative she knew, he was just being desperate for her to understand and give in on her own. She stayed quiet for a moment and then pushed his hand away smoothly but calmed down. She wan't fighting him anymore but had her face still turned away not wishing to give in so easily. Rahul chuckled at her earning another glare from Armaan making him purse his lips;
"Chalo main bhi nikalta hu...and come on she's cute when she's drunk, itna ghussa mat kar!

"I am even cuter when I get angry wanna check?
Armaan offered with a straight smile making Rahul step back and he raised his hands;
"Woah chill dude, it was her idea to drink, I just did not try to be in her way. Anyway you take care and... Best of luck!
He looked down at her and chuckled stepping further away;
"Chalo Raina I will drop you on the way.

"Sorry Sir, hume use rokna chahiye tha.

"You don't need to worry, she will be fine, I am here. Aur baaki iska jawab main is gadhe se le lunga, you wait and watch it will be more interesting!
Armaan hinted a clear threat his way making Raina smile and Armaan assured her as she looked genuinely worried for Riddhima.
"Kal ke liye bhi-----
Raina was about to apologize when Riddhima started walking away and Armaan had to cut short;
"You don't need to, it wasn't your fault. I am sorry but abhi I have to go, we will have a word later. You take care...
Armaan ran behind Riddhima leaving behind a chuckling Raina who smiled at how cute the two were. The revelation had been a shocking one but she felt really happy seeing them together, they looked completely opposite but seemed absolutely perfect for each other. A huge frown had settled on his forehead and he sighed as she walked away all by herself hardly able to take even 4 straight steps without stumbling. And of course it was going to be hard when she kept turning to throw a glare his way while she cursed silently. Armaan simply ran behind to catch up with her;
"Rukooo Riddhima... gir jaogi!
He sighed finally catching up on her when she looked up utterly displeased at him and declared;
"I hateee you Armaan!!
The only two people across the street looked at them startled and Armaan face palmed himself as the realization hit him just by the look in her eyes... it was going to be a long night, a reallyyy long one!
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