Monday, 23 July 2018

Chapter 62 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

Previously On...

Armaan and Riddhima spend time in the FE and Armaan reassures Riddhima that he will not flirt with anyone at the reunion.

Armaan picks Muskaan from the Gupta House and also Abhi & Nikki.

Nikki comforts a nervous Armaan before they enter the reunion party.

Chapter 62

Riddhima smiled tentatively at Rahul as he gave her arm a reassuring squeeze. They'd been talking to a few of Rahul's friends for quite sometime now. Everybody was surprised to see Rahul's transformation from the supposed champu' he was into this dashing man. That had been the topic of discussion for the longest time. Now, they were reminiscing about old times, sharing anecdotes and making the others in their small group laugh.

Everyone was surprised to see Rahul arrive with a date, but they didn't say anything about it. Riddhima was pretty sure it was because they thought that Rahul had only managed to snag a date because of his makeover. She didn't like that. However, they were polite to her and so, in return she was polite to them. She didn't talk much, only laughed at the appropriate times and answered questions briefly when someone asked her something directly.


One of Rahul's friends, Disha, was frighteningly similar to Muskaan in matters of talking and she'd been cracking jokes for the past hour now. Her husband, Abhay, had been gazing fondly at her the entire time. Seeing them made Riddhima smile. And miss Armaan. She sighed again. He was late.


"Riddhima, kahaan kho gayi? Another one of Rahul's friends, Rohit asked. He was a charming man, but he'd been putting the moves on her all evening and she didn't like it.


"Kuch nahi, bas aise hi, she answered.


"Waise, Riddhima, Alisha, a girl who Riddhima was sure had a huge crush on Rahul, called her. "Tumne toh humein abhi tak yeh bhi nahi bataya ki how you met Rahul.


Riddhima smiled at her. "Uh, hum saath kaam karte hai, she answered. "Rahul's been really amazing to me in the past 2 years.


"Awww, Rahul cooed, hugging her around her shoulders and kissing the top of her head. Turning to the group, he said, "Aisa kuch nahi hai. Yeh Riddhima ki toh aadat hai badha chadha ke bolne ki.


"You guys make such a cute couple, Disha gushed.


"Oh! Rahul answered, surprised. He immediately removed his arms from around Riddhima.


"We're just friends, he told her.


Everyone in the vicinity laughed.


"Shuru mein sab aisa hi bolte hain, Shaurya, another one of Rahul's friends, joked.


"No, seriously, guys. We're just friends, Rahul insisted.


"Yeah, right, Roshni, also one of his friends, scoffed.


Riddhima noticed that Alisha looked really pleased at Rahul's insistence. She rolled her eyes. She really didn't like the girl. Despite knowing that Rahul had a date, she'd been trying to get close to him since they'd met.


Before either of them could say something to defend themselves, Roshni sighed. "Ah, there he is, she said, smiling dreamily.


"Really, Roshni? Alisha asked her, her voice laced with disappointment. "I don't even know why you like him so much! Sure, he's good looking, but do you remember how he used to make fun of Rahul all the time?


Roshni just shrugged sheepishly.


"Who? Riddhima asked confused. The others sighed and shook their heads and sighed, but Rahul looked guilty.

When she gestured to him, he sighed and pointed in the direction Roshni was looking.


And, there he was. Her boy, looking completely handsome and just too dashing for his own good. He was leaning into Muskaan and laughing at something some girl was saying. She was talking animatedly, but it was obvious that Armaan was the least bothered about what she was saying. His eyes were scanning the room, but he hadn't seen her yet, mostly because everytime his gaze wandered, said talkative girl would literally take hold of his chin and make him look at her. He was looking so miserable that Riddhima couldn't help but chuckle lowly at his condition.


"Oh, she said.


"That's Armaan Mallik, Roshni told Riddhima. "Hottest boy in all of our batch back during college days. And by the looks of it, even now. He was always surrounded by so many girls, but never really seemed interested in them. God knows why! But, jeez! He's so good looking. How can someone be so hot?


Riddhima didn't really like the way this girl was eyeing Armaan like meat, but smiled at her politely. Come to think of it, all the girls were looking at him. But, his eyes were still desperately seeking the one girl who mattered the most to him. Her. And that thought made her smile.


Armaan held onto Muskaan's hand as he entered the room. With Muskaan on one side and Nikki on the other, he felt almost better about what was coming. Really, he hadn't actually thought this through. When he'd gotten the invitation, he'd been so excited because he saw this as an opportunity to get Rahul & Muskaan together and had jumped at the chance. He hadn't thought about the fact that he would have to spend time with these people as well.


Frankly speaking, Armaan didn't have any close friends in college. Nikki had been the only one. There were a few people who he considered his casual friends, who he hung out with. But, that was it. They didn't talk about themselves or their lives or share problems like his friends at Sanjeevani. They didn't really know much about each other outside the college canteen and their sometimes group study sessions to cram before the day of the exam.


So, he didn't really fancy spending time with them. Especially without Riddhima. But, here was. He'd have to make the best of the given situation.


He hadn't even entered properly when he swept his gaze around the room, desperate to see his Basket.


"Armaan! Some girl who he didn't remember squealed, hugging him tightly, pulling his attention away from the task at hand.


He patted her back awkwardly and immediately pulled back.


"Hi, he greeted her timidly.


She smiled brilliantly at him. Then, she turned to Nikki and gave her an almost icey smile before greeting her.


Most of Armaan's so called fangirls' hated his closeness with Nikki.


After greeting Nikki, she launched a detailed account of her life in the past 10 years. She completely ignored Muskaan, whom Armaan had pulled impossibly closer. His grip on her was so tight that she winced. Smiling at her apologetically, Armaan loosened his hold. He looked up and began searching for Riddhima again, but whenever his face moved, this girl would just pull it back to look at her. Armaan just winced, listening to this nameless girl talk.


"Armaan! One of his friends, Agastya crowed as he made his way yo them.


"Agastya! Armaan shrieked in relief. They shared a brief hug before Agastya hugged Nikki.


"Agastya, this is my husband, Abhi, Nikki introduced them.


Abhi smiled politely at the man and shook his hand.


"Hi, I'm Agastya. Nikki aur main college mein friends the, he explained to Abhi. Looking at Nikki's teeny - tiny baby bump, he grinned. "Congratulations, he wished the couple.


"Thank you! Nikki smiled brilliantly.


Then, Armaan introduced Agastya to Muskaan.


Agastya smiled wide on seeing her and shook her hand too, holding on for a little longer than necessary.


Armaan chuckled fakely and expertly removed his hand from Muskaan's.


"Oho, possessive! Agastya teased. Armaan waved him off.


Soon, a group formed, all of them desperate to see Armaan after so long, and even more surprised to see Nikki with him. No one had heard from them for years, so they were the hot topic of discussion.


Armaan recognized a few people. Rakesh - probably the only genuine friend Armaan had, besides Nikki, Sonia - one of those catty girls who liked to bitch about others, but would die for her friends, Tara - she was one of the people who considered Armaan just a friend and nothing more and Armaan really appreciated that, especially after Nikki left, Jai - a total playboy who had a new girl on his arm every other week, he was a little too similar to Armaan during their college days which was probably why he and Armaan were good friends, Nisha - Armaan remembered dating her for a few months and she was the only girl who'd taken their break up in stride and Neha - that one girl who'd desperately tried to woo Armaan but had never succeeded. There were around 5-6 more people there, but he didn't recognise them.

That issue, however, was solved when they demanded introductions for Abhi & Muskaan. Armaan was thankful that he wouldn't be embarrassed about not remembering any names anymore. When the others got busy, Armaan desperately resumed his search.


And, then, he saw her. And, he was blown away. He was absolutely positive that she hadn't ever looked so beautiful before. His breath caught in his throat and he was absolutely sure he'd died and gone to heaven right then. She looked positively ethereal. Armaan wanted nothing more than to sweep her into his arms and kiss her till neither of them remembered anything apart from each other.


               


"Gorgeous, he whispered, almost breathlessly. Of course, everybody in the vicinity heard him and turned to look.


Nikki & Muskaan shared a laugh when they followed his gaze to see Riddhima. This boy was so hopeless.


The other men in their group seemed to agree with Armaan's assessment and started making me comments about how hot she was.


Armaan cleared his throat to get their attention. "Back off, he said, his tone ringing finality.


No one dared cross him. It had been that way since college. Armaan usually had a pick of the litter and no one ever tried to do anything with a girl who Armaan liked. The same applied still.


Listening to their comments made Armaan want to wring their neck, but he refrained himself, not wanting to create a scene. Nikki's hand comfortingly rubbing his back helped a great deal. So, instead of hitting them, Armaan laid claim in another way.


However, listening to his words has the other girls convinced that he was still flutterby Armaan who changed girlfriends like he changed clothes. He'd been so attentive to Muskaan since he'd entered, never once letting go off her hand, laughing at her jokes, hugging her. Armaan had never been so cute or attentive with any of his girlfriends in the past. Especially, after hearing how Armaan had behaved when Agastya had met Muskaan, they were shocked. Armaan had never been so territorial or possessive before. Sure, he'd stake claim on girls he found beautiful,  but once he dumped them, he never bothered who dated them. And, he certainly had never behaved that way for any of the girls he'd dated. It was really surprising that something as simple as a handshake had made him behave so rude. So, many girls assumed that he had given up his casanova ways and was settling down in life. But, seeing him moon over another girl while having a gorgeous one on his arm was an indication that he was still the old Armaan Mallik.


Neha grinned. She'd get her 7 minutes in Heaven with Armaan this time.


Riddhima felt Armaan's gaze burning through her like fire and looked up. He staring at her intently, not bothering with any of the chatter that was surrounding his group. Riddhima blushed under his scrutiny which caused Armaan to grin.


He gestured for her to leave her group. At first, she refused, but after his repeated pleas, she excused herself to get a drink.


Rahul, who had been silently observing them, shook his fondly.


Seeing her make her way to the bar, Armaan turned to Muskaan.


"Please? He begged, pouting. Muskaan had made him promise to be an attentive date and not spend all his time with Riddhima if he wanted her to go with him. Desperate to have her there, Armaan had agreed.


Muskaan raised an eyebrow at him challengingly.


"Bas 5 minutes. Promise, he pleaded.


Muskaan grinned at his desperation and nodded. "5 minutes, she warned.

Armaan grinned and hugged her tight. "You're the best, Muski. I love you, saying so, he placed a smacking kiss on her cheek before rushing away.


If people weren't shocked before, they were now. They'd heard Armaan say the words I Love You'. Was this even real life? Armaan, telling someone, a girl no less, that he loved her? And then, immediately running off to see some other girl? What did that even mean? Did he have an open relationship? Were they just friends? What? Neha was getting really antsy with this. Now, she had to compete with not one, but two girls for Armaan's attention. This was not how she had envisioned this night. She was sure that Armaan would finally give her the attention she deserved. It had been so many years since they'd last seen each other. And, she'd aged beautifully. At 28, she still looked like she wasn't a day older than 22. She was proud of her looks. Boys fell at her feet, begging for a chance with her. But, the one she wanted most hadn't given her the time of the day. Ever since he'd gotten here, he was busy laughing and joking with Muskaan, Nikki and Abhi. Sure, he was sweet and polite if someone initiated conversation with him, but Neha could see it was just out of formality rather than a genuine desire to catch up with his old friends. He hadn't even reacted positively when Kriya had thrown herself at him. In fact, he'd pushed her away. And, she was the girl who Armaan had dated for the longest time when they were in college. Almost 2 months.


If, he wasn't interested in talking to these people, why was he even here? Neha wondered. He shouldn't have come. Now, he'd ruined her night by getting her hopes up and then quenching them so unceremoniously.


Nikki giggled and turned to Muskaan, who smiled at her.


"Yeh nahi aane waala ab, haina? Muskaan asked rhetorically.


"Nahi, Nikki agreed. "Loverboy ki desperation toh dekho, she joked.


"Mujhe na, uski baat maanni hi nahi chahiye thi. Aaraam se ghar baithti, chill maarti, lekin le aaya yahaan. Aur main bhi uski baaton mein aa gayi. Kaise desperately plead kar raha tha yaar! Please, Muski! Tu nahi chalegi toh kaun chalega. Baad mein toh dhamki bhi di, she told Nikki quietly.


And Armaan had threatened her. He'd reminded her of the one time he'd pretended to be her boyfriend in front of her parents and called in that favour to get her to come.


"Lekin tu maani kyu? Nikki asked, confused.


Muskaan grinned at that. "Yahaan aane ke badle mein, agle 6 months tak, main jo bhi movie bolu, usse mere saath dekhne jaana padega. Aur uske baad dinner, she cackled evilly.


"Hawww! Nikki exclaimed. "Tum mere bina jaaoge movie dekhne? Nahi, nahi. Aisa nahi ho sakta. Aane de uss Armaan ke bachche ko. Main bhi dekhti hu kaise mujhe nahi leke jaata tere saath.


Here, Armaan made his way to the bar, where Riddhima had ordered a mocktail.


He held her around the waist, and whispered near her ear. "Hello, beautiful.


Riddhima shivered, but shrugged his hand off.


"I'm sorry, she said, turning to him. "But, do I know you? She asked.


"I think so, Armaan replied. "Dr. Armaan Mallik, he introduced himself. "Hot, charming, handsome. Best boyfriend ever. Ring any bells?


Riddhima laughed. "Best boyfriend ever? Really?


"Yes. Really, Armaan replied.


"I mean, I guess you're okay, she conceded.


"Bas okay? Armaan asked, miffed. "Fine! Mujhe na, tumse baat hi nahi karni. Bye! He said, turning to leave.


"Armaan! Riddhima called as he turned around and held his arm. "Main bas mazaak kar rahi thi. I'm sorry, she apologized cutely.


He turned back to see her holding one ear with her free hand. She was so adorable, he couldn't help but smile.


"Theek hai, theek hai, he answered dismissively.


"I love you, Riddhima murmured softly, causing him to grin wide.


"I love you, too, he replied, hugging her close.


"Waise, aaj tum bohot, bohot, bohot khoobsurat lag rahi ho, he said after sometime.


Riddhima blushed. "Oyye hoyye, he mumbled against her temple, causing her to blush deeper.


"Tum bhi kaafi achche lag rahe ho, she told him.


"Really? Thank you! He said.


"Ma'am, your drink, the waiter interrupted their conversation, placing it on the bar.


"Thank you, Riddhima said. Armaan couldn't help himself and quickly kissed her cheek when she turned. Riddhima just shook her head at him.


Taking the drink, she turned to leave.


"Jaa rahi ho? He whined.


Riddhima nodded. "Armaan, Rahul mera wait kar raha hai. Actually na, mujhe uske friends kuch theek nahi lagte. Uske makeover' ho gaya haina. Toh sab bohot ajeeb behave kar rahe hain. I just... I want to make sure sab sahi ho.


Armaan nodded in understanding. "Haan, main jaanta hu. Rahul ab college ke dino se bohot alag dikhta hai. Ek baat batao, kisi ladki ne uske saath flirt karne ki koshish ki?


Riddhima nodded. "Haan, bohot saari. Lekin usne kuch kaha nahi kisise. Aur uski ek friend hai. Alisha. I think usse Rahul bohot pasand hai. I hope ki woh kuch gadbad na kare.


"Hey! Armaan said, placing a calming hand on her shoulder. "Kuch nahi hoga. Dekhna tum. Rahul aur Muskaan ke problems jaldi sort ho jaayenge. Hum haina?


Riddhima nodded. "Pata hai. Lekin phir bhi.


"Tumna, bohot tension leti ho. Main keh raha hu na. Sab theek hoga, he reassured.


Riddhima nodded, defeated.


"Chalo. Ab jaane se pehle ek achchi si smile toh dedo, he requested.


Riddhima smiled half heartedly.


"Aisi nahi, Armaan complained. "Ekdum badi si, meri Basket waali.


"Armaan! Riddhima rebuked.


He just grinned at her.


"I love you, he proclaimed.


The words immediately brought a brilliant smile to her face. "I love you, too, she replied.


"Bas. Yahi waali smile, Armaan answered. He kissed her forehead before letting go.


"Bye! She said, turning to leave.


Armaan held her hand causing her to turn around.


"Thode time ke liye ruk jao na. Please! He begged.


"Armaan, Riddhima smiled, coming to stand near him. "Tumne Muskaan ko promise kiya tha na, ki tum uske saath rahoge?


Armaan nodded petulantly.


"Toh jao. Aur, mujhe bhi Rahul ke paas jaane do. Please? She requested.


"Fine! Jao.


Riddhima smiled at his adorable pout and kissed his cheek before turning to leave.


Armaan grinned at her retreating figure.


"Palat, he whispered to himself. As if she'd heard him, Riddhima stopped walking. But, continued a second later.


"Palat, Armaan whispered again. She didn't react.


"Palat, a third time. Surprisingly, she didn't.


Disheartened, Armaan hung his head, ready to leave, when Riddhima looked behind.


She smirked sexily at Armaan. He grinned at that and blew her a kiss. Riddhima blushed and turned back, making her way to Rahul. Armaan watched her go, thinking about how she found new ways to surprise him at every turn, but was still predictable in others.


Turning to the bar, he ordered a beer. His night had gotten a whole lot better.


xxx
love
prags,

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