Thursday, 19 September 2019

Chapter 16 : Dangerous Desire (AR)

What's Going On Here?

Muskaan was sitting in front of the dresser putting her earrings on. She wore a white long skirt and a simple baby pink halter top. A small, dreamy smile was playing on her lips. Color rose to her cheeks as she thought about the kiss Rahul and she shared the previous night.

"Oye hoye. Sharmaate hue meri Muski kinni soni lag rahi hain." Riddhima stood behind her and pulled her cheeks very cutely, which made her blush even more.

"Chup kar Ridzi. Kyun mujhe baat baat par chidhaati rehti hain?"

"Kyunki tujhe chidhaane mein mujhe maza aata hain. After all. The Muskaan Chaddha ko blush karte dekhna ek bohat bada accomplishment hain. Waise... Rahul ke baare mein soch rahi thi na?" Muskaan didn't have to say anything as her blush gave everything away.

"Aaye haaye!" They heard a car honk and Riddhima smirked.

"Jaa. Tera Rahul tera wait kar raha hoga."


"Shut up Ridzi. Achha chal. Jaldi bata. Main kaisi lag rahi hoon?" Riddhima stepped back and checked her from top to bottom.

"Hmm. Looking nice!" Muskaan smiled widely.

"Thanks Ridzi!" She hugged her tightly and kissed her cheeks.

"Achha chal ab main chalti hoon. Mera wait matt karna aur time pe khana aur time par so jaana. Samjhi?"

"Ji ma'am." Riddhima chuckled and Muskaan glared at her. She shook her head and left the room.

Coming out, she saw Rahul leaning against his black car, looking as dashing as ever in a pair of jeans and a black shirt. Her breath got caught in her throat seeing him like that. He stood straight and placed his hands in the pockets. Muskaan slightly blushed at her own thoughts and walked to him. He looked at her from top to bottom, admiring her choice of clothes.

"Hi." Muskaan smiled at him.

"Hi."

"You're looking very beautiful."

"Thanks. Tum bhi bohat achhe lag rahe ho."

"Thanks. Toh... chale?" Muskaan nodded and sat in the seat beside the drivers.

They reached a five-star restaurant and Rahul opened the door for her. She came out and looked at Rahul. He placed his hand out for her.

"Shall we?" Muskaan looked at his hand and placed her hand in his. He took her inside and Muskaan was surprised to see no one else there.

"Rahul. Yahaan par toh humare alaava aur koi nahin hain."

"Pata hain."

"Matlab?"

"Matlab yeh, ki maine iss poore restaurant ko reserve kar liya hain. Only for us."

"Lekin Rahul, poora restaurant?"

"Tumhare liye kuch bhi." Muskaan blushed. Rahul circled his arm around her waist and took her to the table in the center. It had a transparent glass vase in the middle and contained a beautiful rose. He pulled out a chair for her and she sat down.

"So. What would you like to have?" He asked as he sat down.

"Whatever you say." He smiled and called the waiter. He order a few dishes and then turned to her as soon as the waiter left. They talked and got to know more about each other. Their life, their likes, dislikes, everything was no longer a secret for them. The food arrived had soon arrived and they had chatted the night away merrily.

****

Riddhima was seated on the window in her pink boyshorts and blue cami and was writing in her diary.


Dear Pinky,

Ek baat kahun? Armaan... itna bhi bura nahin hain. Aaj mujhe laga tha ki woh zaroor meri insult karega, lekin main toh kitni galat thi. Ussne toh infact mujhe sorry bola. Yaad hain uss din kaise woh sorry bolne ke liye struggle kar raha tha? Aaj toh ussne itna effortlessly sorry keh diya mujhe. He's so silly.

Sach kahun toh maine usske jaisa confusing ladka kabhi nahin dekha. Uss din ussi ne mujhe rulaaya, lekin phir ussi ne mere aansoon bhi pochhe. He made me feel so protected and secured. Woh aisa kyun hain? Duniya ko toh yeh dikhata hain ki woh itna tough aur mean hain, lekin apni achhaayi chhupaata hain.

Yaad hain uss din Anjali ne mujhe Armaan ke baare mein kya kaha tha? Anjali ne aisa kyun kaha tha? Armaan ke saath aisa toh kya hua tha ki woh aisa hain? Usse dekho toh aisa lagta hain jaise-jaise woh apne aap ko ek jhooti image se protect kar raha hain. Jaise usse darr ho ki koi usske achhaayi na dekh le. It feels as if he wants people to be afraid of him, detest him. Lekin aisa kyun?

Ek secret baat bolun? Aaj jab main uss kiss ke baare mein phirse sochti hoon, toh mujhe realize hota hain ki maine toh actually uss kiss ko enjoy kiya tha. Aur mujhe usske baare mein koi regrets bhi nahin hain. I don't regret anything that happened between us. Har ladki ka sapna hota hain ki usski pehli kiss magical ho aur woh usse apne pyaar ke saath share karein... aur mujhe toh aisa lagta hain jaise meri wish poori ho gayi hain. Lekin aisa kyun? Haan, the kiss did feel magical, lekin Armaan toh mera boyfriend nahin hain aur na hi main usske liye aisa kuch feel karti hoon. Toh phir...

She couldn't write more as the door opened and Muskaan came in with a wide smile.

"Hey Muski!" She closed her diary and walked to her. Muskaan spinned her.

"Aaj main uppar

Aasmaan neeche

Aaj main aage

Zamaana hain peeche..."

Riddhima laughed as Muskaan danced with her.

"Ba... bas Muskaan."

"Ridz, Ridz, Ridz! Aaj main bohat khush hoon!"

"Woh toh dikh raha hain Muski. Achha chal. Fatafat mujhe bata. Date pe kya hua?"

"Riddhu! Date ek dum romantic thi! Rahul mujhe ek five-star restaurant mein le kar gaya tha. Vahaan par humne bohat saari baatein ki, ek doosre ko jaana, pehchaana. Bohat maza aaya!" She took Riddhima's hand in hers and danced with her. "Phir humne dance kiya, ice cream khaayi." Both fell on the bed and smiled.

"Wow Muski. Tune toh bohat enjoy kiya!"

"Yep! Ek baat kahun Ridz? Aaj se pehle mujhe kabhi itna maza nahin aaya. Sach keh rahi hoon Ridz. I... I think I'm- I'm in love with him. He-he makes me feel so special, like no one else can. Lekin, kya woh bhi mujhse pyaar karta hain?" She turned to Riddhima who was patiently listening to everything.

"Zaroor karta hain. Maine bhi usski aankhon mein tumhare liye bohat pyaar dekha hain. Sachi."

"I hope so."

"Mtch. Muski. Ab chal. Jaldi se so jaa. Kal office jaana hain na. Chal!" She pushed her to the bathroom to change her clothes. Soon the girls went to sleep, dreaming about someone special.

****

Armaan rocked back and forth on his chair, looking at the full moon in the sky. He sighed as he saw their kiss in the face of the moon. He has kissed many girls, but never felt this way for anyone. The kiss had felt so right. Now that he thought about it, he knew he didn't regret any of it. Not even a bit. But the only thing he was worried about was what Riddhima thought. Did she regret it? Did she feel the same way?

Unfortunately, he had no answers to his questions. But the main question was why did he even care? Why did he care what Riddhima thought?

"Kya soch rahe ho Bhai?" he stopped rocking and saw Abhi standing at the door. He was shocked. Abhi was here? And did he just talk to him politely? This was a big shock for Armaan. It had been ages ever since Armaan and Abhi had shared a proper, brotherly conversation. Abhi smiled slightly and sat down on the couch in front of him.

"Coffee?" He placed the coffee mug on the table in front of him and looked at Armaan, who was staring at him in apprehension.

"Th-thanks." He picked up the mug and took a sip out of it.

"So. Kya soch rahe the?"

"Ku-kuch nahin." Abhi smiled.

"Agar sach nahin bataana toh at least jhooth toh mat bolo." Armaan knew Abhi was hurt because of his lie.

"N-nahin. Aisa kuch nahin hain."

"Toh phir bolo. Kya soch rahe the?" Abhi knew very well what he was thinking of- Riddhima- but wanted to hear it from him.

"Tum... aaj achaank se mujhse itne achhe se kyun baat kar rahe ho?" Abhi looked at him.

"Bas. Aise hi. Aaj mann kiya tumse aise baat karne ka. Kyun? Tumhe mujhse baat nahin karni?"

"Nahin-"

"Nahin karni?"

"Nahin-"

"Karni hain?" Armaan just nodded meekly.

"Mtch. Bhai. Main itne dinon ke baad tumse baat karne aaya hoon, aur tum mujhe ek smile bhi nahin de rahe ho." Armaan chuckled.

"So tumhari parties kaisi ja rahi hain?"

"Kya Bhai. Jab se office join kiya hain parties toh jaise have come to a standstill."

"Achha hain. Warna toh tum roz ghar par drunk hoke aate the."

"Oh. So you had noticed that?" Armaan felt a little bad hearing the slight taunt in his tone.

"Haan. Notice kiya tha maine." A moment of silence followed. There was a bit awkwardness in the atmosphere.

"Bhai... can I ask you something?"

"Yeah, go ahead." He stood up and walked him and even Armaan stood up. After a moment, Abhi hugged Armaan and he was taken aback. His eyes welled up in happiness and he smiled, hugging him back. Both the brothers were really happy as they had reunited after a long time.

Abhi silently thanked Riddhima and Niki for this. After all, it was because of them that Abhi had decided to make the first move and reduce the distances between the two.

Riddhima was sitting in Niki's cabin and both were talking about Abhi and Armaan's relationship.

"Kya karein Niki? Armaan aur Abhi toh ek doosre se baat karne ko bhi tayaar nahin hain. Dono ek doosre ko toh jaise avoid hi karte hain. Aur tum bhi toh mujhe kuch nahin bata rahi."

"M-main kya kahun Ridz? M-mujhe toh... khud kuch nahin pata. Lekin hume kisi na kisi ko toh kuch samjhana padega na."

"Kisko kya samjhana hain Niki?" They saw Abhi standing at the door and stood up. Niki and Riddhima exchanged glances and looked at Abhi.

"Abhi... woh... hum tumse kuch baat karna chahte hain."

"Haan, bolo."

"Abhi... hum sab jaante hain ki tumhare aur Armaan ke beech mein koi problem hain. Aur hume lagta hain ki tum dono ko yeh problem solve kar leni chahiye."

"Ridz... tumhe aisa kyun lagta hain ki main yeh problem solve nahin karna chahta? Even I want the same, but..."

"But kya Abhi?"

"Ridz... just forget it. Please."

"No Abhi. You have to do something. Agar Armaan pehla kadam nahin utha raha, toh tum uthao na. Lekin you need to sort your problems out." Said Niki.

"Lekin Niki-"

"Shush! Ab agar ek aur lavz kaha na, toh mujhse bura nahin hoga. Okay?"

"Okay." Abhi smiled. Maybe this was the only option left.

Maybe Niki and Riddhima were right. Maybe it's good to take the first step.

****

The next few days passed by in a jiffy. Things were back to normal, well, not quite. Armaan and Riddhima were still trying to figure out what they felt for each other. The kiss had left a huge mark on their hearts, though they refused to show it to each other. When they were together, they always fought like usual over the silly stuff, but would end up sharing an eye lock.

Things between Armaan and Abhi also started to improve. They would have a moment of awkwardness, but then they would start talking like brothers and have a nice time. Others were ecstatic because of this, especially Atul and Rahul. After all, after years the brothers were finally talking to each other and they just couldn't stop thanking Riddhima for this.

Atul and Anjali were starting to get closer, though Atul was frustrated thinking that he wasn't the one Anjali loved. What made it even more worse was that Anjali kept on talking about how good he was. Anjali was more than happy to see the jealousy blooming in Atul.

Rahul and Muskaan were spending more time with each other. They went out often on dates, talked for hours on the phone, and do some flirtings when others weren't looking at them. Riddhima was very happy to see the change in Muskaan and even teased her about this, but Muskaan, was Muskaan.

Even Abhi and Niki were unknowingly getting attatched to each other. Abhi was starting to get dependant on Niki. He couldn't do anything without her! He even had dreams about him and her, though he just couldn't understand what was going on with him.

Armaan was working on his laptop when he heard knock on the door and let out a come in. He saw one of his employees, Ram, come in with a file. Ram was the one that handled the loans section of the office.

"Bolo Ram. Kya baat hain?"

"Sir actually ek problem hain. Main ek mahine se notice kar raha hoon ke humare bank mein se koi lagataar paise nikaal raha hain. Hum yeh pata nahin laga paa rahe ke paison ko kaun nikaal raha hain. Yeh lijiye saare accounts." Armaan flipped through the file and knew that someone was indeed taking money out of the bank and it was big money, going up to hundred thousands. Money was being taken out almost everyday. This was turning out to be bad and they had to stop this.

"Jab itne saare paise gayab ho rahe hain toh tum loans kyun dete ho?"

"Sir yeh hi toh problem hain. Maine ya loans department ke kisi bhi in charge ne iss ek mahine mein kisi ko bhi loan nahin diya. Aur paise phir bhi gayab ho rahe hain." Armaan's head shot up at this.

Aisa kaise ho sakta hain? Loans department ke kisi bhi in charge ne kisi ko loan nahin diya? Toh phir yeh paise gayab kaise ho rahe hain? What's going on here? Pata lagana padega.

"Ek kaam karo. Iss ek mahine ke saare video footages mujhe chahiye. I want them in 15 minutes. Okay?"

"Yes Sir." Ram went away leaving Armaan in his own thoughts. He immediately picked up of the phone and called his brothers, telling them to meet up in one of the private rooms of the office. He was unaware that someone had listened to all of their conversation.

****

Ten minutes later, the boys gathered up in a complete white room which had a few sofas and a table in the middle which held the laptop.

"Bhai. Kya baat hain? Tumne hume yahaan achanak kyun bulaya?" Atul inquired.

"Kuch daer pehle Ram mere paas aaya tha. Ussne mujhe bataya ki pichhle ek mahine se koi humare loans department mein se lagatar paise nikal raha hain. And they aren't small amounts. They go up to hundred thousands. Aur heraani ki baat toh yeh hain ki vahaan ke kissi bhi in charge ne ek mahine se kissi ko bhi koi loan nahin diya hain. Paise kaun nikal raha hain, kaise nikal raha hain, no one knows."

"Aisa kaise ho sakta hain? Something's wrong here." Said Abhi.

"Lekin tumne hume yahaan kyun bulaya?"

"Maine Ram se keh kar iss ek mahine ke footages mangaaye hain. Let's see what has happened." They nodded and Armaan inserted the first CD.

Throughout all the videos, they saw nothing strange or out of place. It was just the normal staff going in and out doing their regular work. They were getting confused because nothing abnormal had happened. Armaan inserted the next CD and realized that a few recordings were missing. He searched around but didn't find anything.

"Kya hua Armaan? Kya dhund rahe ho?"

"Rahul. Kuch CDs gayab hain."

"WHAT?!"

"Yes."

"Toh isska toh yeh hi matlab hain ki..."

"Ki humari company mein se hi koi paise nikal raha hain."

"Lekin kaun?"

"Yeh hi toh pata lagana hain. And if I'm not wrong, then this is related to the tender project."

"If it is, then hume bohat careful rehna padega."

"Hmm."

Kaun ho sakta hain? Koi paise nikal raha hain, CDs gayab hain, what's going on here?

****

It was around 9 PM and it was time for Armaan to leave the office. He closed his laptop and was about to leave when he saw the lights of Riddhima's cabin on. He frowned and kept the bag on the table and opened the door. He saw Riddhima sleeping on the couch in an uncomfortable sitting position. He slightly smiled and walked to her.

He sat down beside her and looked at her closely. He frowned as her hair lock disturbed his view. He slowly moved the lock behind her ear and saw a smile on her face. Was she awake? He realized she was smiling in her sleep. Probably having a sweet dream. For some reason, he wished she was dreaming about him. He whispered her name softly. He caressed her face with the back of his finger. Her smile widened and she turned to her side, holding his hand under her cheek. He gasped as her lips brushed past his hand.

He just kept staring at her. He could gaze at her till eternity, but even that would seem less to him. She was the most beautiful creature on Earth. Once again, he found himself admiring her features. Unknowingly, he moved closer to her. He was so close to her that he could hear her heartbeats.

Riddhima felt someone's breath kissing her face and she slowly opened her eyes. Her eyes met his and for a moment she was mesmerized. She thought she was dreaming.

"Armaan." He came back to his senses and moved away from her and Riddhima realized she wasn't dreaming.

There was a moment of awkwardness in the air.

"I-I'm sorry. Woh... main tumhe uthane aaya tha. Office band karne ka time ho gaya. Jaldi aa jao."

"Hmm."

They soon went to their respective houses, but had different thoughts. Riddhima thought about the little moment they shared, while Armaan thought about the mysterious happenings in the office.

****

Medha

No comments:

Post a Comment

dilmilgayearblog.blogspot.com