Friday, 6 December 2019

PART 17 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

Armaan groaned as he heard the same old ring of his alarm. Groping for the source of sound, he sighed as he found it. Switching it off, he opened his eyes reluctantly. Cursing the sun for rising up, he headed towards the washroom. Looking at his image in the mirror, he couldn't help but smile as the previous day flashed before his eyes. His smile transformed into a grin as he remembered of the short peck he gave Riddhima. He realized her cheeks were very soft against his lips.

As he headed towards the living room, he stopped when he came across Riddhima's room. He peeped in slowly to have a glance at her. But he found it was empty. Frowning, he moved to the living room and noticed Raji on the couch, reading the newspaper.

"Raji, where is Riddhima?" he asked staying calm, but one could notice a hint of panic in his voice.



Raji smiled at him before replying back. "She had an early shift in the hospital." She paused for a moment and added "Breakfast?"

Armaan nodded and they both went to the dining table. While having breakfast, Armaan was struggling with himself whether to tell Raji about his feelings for Riddhima. Raji, on the other hand noticed Armaan being unusually quiet in deep thought.

"Armaan, do you want to say something?" Raji asked expectantly.

"Huh" Armaan was startled at being caught off guard. He smiled weakly and started "Actually yes. But-" he hesitated.

Raji frowned at his hesitation. "Armaan, since when have you been thinking hard to talk to me?" after a moment when he didn't reply, she got up from the table and collected the plates to put them in the kitchen, as they finished breakfast.

As she was about to move out, Armaan stopped her and said "Raji…uh… actually…I want to say…that…." He stammered, at loss of words.

"Armaan? this is too much." Raji said refraining herself from laughing, moving into the kitchen.

He followed her into the kitchen. "Ok. I am in love." Armaan said in a breath.

"Tell me something new." Raji chuckled at his nervousness continuing with her work in the kitchen.

Armaan was baffled at her words. "What? You knew already? Before me?" he asked quite shocked.

Raji turned towards him and smiled "It was obvious in your face and I couldn't help but recognize." She patted his cheek lovingly and walked to the living room.

"Oh" Armaan nodded, not sure how to react. He went and sat beside her on the couch, deep in thought. "Can Riddhima notice that too?" he asked out of blue and added "I never thought I had such an expressive face."

Raji laughed at his words. "I don't think so. But she sure had realized something changing."

Armaan's face lit up suddenly. "Did she talk to you anything about me? Do you think I should tell her?" he asked curious.

Raji could do nothing but smile at his excitement. "As far as I have understood her, she is still dealing with the presence of you and me in her life. I guess she is still little afraid to let anyone come closer to her heart for the fear of losing them. She misses her mother and her sister badly." She turned to him and added "Don't rush on her, Armaan. She is very nave."

Armaan's face fell listening to her. "But you have excellent chances as far as I can see." He heard her say and smiled from ear to ear, flashing his deep dimples at her. "You see, no one can resist these dimples." She added slightly poking them.

"Thank you so much Raji. I love you." He hugged her, beyond happy.

"Oh, but I thought you loved your wife." Raji giggled, while Armaan blushed slightly at her mention. "So the Armaan Mallik is blushing." She quickly added.

Armaan got on his feet and said "I am getting late. I'll leave. Bye." He ran out embarrassed and happy.

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

Riddhima is in one of her bad moods when she reached the canteen after completing her duty. She sat on the chair, with her head in her hands. 'Why did I choose to join Sanjeevani? ' she muttered under her breath, feeling tired.

"Hey Riddhima, missing your hubby?" Rahul asked playfully making his presence felt as he sat beside her with Muskaan. But shut his mouth as he received a deadly glare from her in return as a greeting.

"What happened Riddhima? you look tired." Muskaan asked offering her a cup of coffee.

Riddhima sighed and nodded at her. "I am indeed tired Muski. My shift started at 6 in the morning and I was again assigned an extra duty till 7 in the night. Back to back duties without break." She complained, taking in the strong aroma of the coffee.

Armaan, on his way back to the reception, noticed Riddhima in the canteen with Muskaan and Rahul. He sighed looking at her. He didn't get a single moment with her since the morning, with their hectic duties. In red kurti and blue jeans, she looked beautiful, to him, inspite of her messy hair falling off her ponytail.

"Hello everyone." Armaan beamed in joyfully, his eyes on Riddhima. When she didn't reply, he added "Hey Basket, missing me?" trying desperately to gain her attention.

"Shut up Armaan." she snapped back before sipping her coffee.

"Easy Basket. Got up from the wrong side of bed or what." he said sitting beside Rahul, opposite to her. Rahul pulled him by his collar and whispered "Don't mess with her. She is in bad mood probably tired."

"So Basket, I am done with today's duty. Shall we leave?" he asked getting up from the chair. She nodded at him weakly and stood up. Armaan noticed that she was very tired indeed. As her bike was at the shed for servicing, she had no option but to leave with Armaan.

"Armaan, I am very tired. I don't even have the energy to shout at you. So please drive slowly." She pleaded him as she sat behind him.

"Basket, I am not even driving at my usual speed. Just 60 kmph. Moreover, the usual road to our house is under work. So we have to take the other way around. So if I drive according to your speed limits, we'll reach our home only in the morning." He smirked at her and added cheekily "However if you are afraid, you may hold me. I won't mind"

Riddhima gave up, knowing very well he is true. She clasped his shirt on his waist in her fists, tightly, as he increased the speed. He felt her hands on his waist and grinned.

After sometime, he felt her slightly swaying making it difficult for him to maintain his balance. "Basket, are you sleepy?" he asked turning his head side wards.

"Huh… yes." She answered sleepily. "I'll try to keep my eyes open though." She added innocently, which made him smile.

"Basket, you may sleep, resting your head on my back." He said reluctantly.

But Riddhima was more than glad at his offer. With her eyes heavy with sleep, she moved closer to him and ran her hands around his waist holding him tight before resting her head on his nape.

"Thanks." She mumbled in her sleep.

But it didn't take much time for Armaan to realize, it was indeed a bad idea. With her body close and pressed against his back, he found it hard to concentrate on the road. To his misery, when Riddhima turned her face to the other side, in her sleep, involuntarily, his collar was pulled down and her lips brushed against his nape, making his mind go into frenzy.

With her warm and even breath on his neck and his thoughts already wandering off the boundary, he almost lost his balance on the bike, making it jerk side wards, before he got it under control. Due to the sudden movement, Riddhima snuggled closer to his back, tightening her hold on him.

Armaan's heart almost stopped beating and he held his breath as he felt her breast pressed at his back more. A slight shiver ran down his spine. He brushed the weird thoughts off his mind and tried to concentrate on his driving but in vain. He even started counting numbers breathing in and out slowly, to put the demons in his mind under control.

Unknown to the effect she had on her, Riddhima slept peacefully, dreaming about – only God knows what.

Armaan breathed out deeply as he successfully made it to his flat. As he moved to the parking area and stopped the bike, he realized Riddhima was still in deep slumber.

"Basket, get up. We are home. Let's go inside." He said slightly shaking her hand which was on his chest.

But Riddhima shook his hand off her and mumbled "Please Armaan, let me sleep. I am tired." She turned her face to the other side and dozed off again.

Armaan smiled at her tactics. "Basket, I am sure you are comfortable, but I badly need a bed to sleep." He said shaking her more this time.

As his words got registered in her sleepy brain, she opened her eyes slowly and tried to understand where she was. Her eyes widened at the realization that she was holding onto him tightly and sleeping on his back. Disentangling her hands from around his waist, she moved back in a flash.

"Uh …I am sorry. I dozed off." She said embarrassed as she got down from the bike. As she walked towards the elevator, without meeting his eyes, he wondered whether she was walking in sleep.

"Is there any function in the apartments?" he asked surprised at the decorations and the fuss of people at the elevator. Riddhima shrugged her shoulders.

As they stepped into the elevator, Riddhima leaned against the side wall still her eyes half closed. Armaan couldn't help but smile at her. As the elevator was about to rise up, the door flew open making sleepy Riddhima slightly jump. Armaan noticed few people getting in and moved and stood behind Riddhima protectively. Riddhima relaxed when she felt him behind her.

As the elevator stopped at the next floor, the almost full elevator was flooded with few others. Due to the lack of space, Riddhima was slightly pushed back by a fat lady infront of her. Due to the sudden movement, Riddhima banged into his chest and he stumbled back to the wall of the elevator, holding her securely by her waist, balancing himself and her.

Riddhima's sleep almost vanished when she felt his hand on her waist and she became stiff and alert, but neither complained nor pushed his hand off her.

"Sorry Mrs. Mallik. There is a small family party at our flat and the elevator is crowded due to our relatives." The fat lady who pushed Riddhima apologized.

Riddhima smiled at her assuringly, while Armaan's heart somersaulted at her being addressed as Mrs. Mallik.

When the elevator moved two more floors up, it made a weird noise and stopped, and the next moment, the lights and fan went off. Riddhima panicked at the sudden darkness and placed her hand on his, which was still resting on her waist, as if to make sure he was there.

"Don't panic. I guess the power went off. The security will switch on the generator, in a moment." He whispered into her ear, bending slightly.

Riddhima shivered slightly as she felt his warm breath near her ear. Her heart beat increased and breathing became shallow at the closeness. She tried to move away to create some space between them but in vain. The more she tried to create space, the more she was pushed back into him. She rested her back on his chest, giving up.

Armaan noticed her gestures and smiled at the fact that she is affected by him. He pretended as if trying to stand straight and tightened his hold on her pulling her closer in the meantime.

Riddhima gasped as his hold on her tightened. She wondered whether he was doing it deliberately and closed her eyes to steady her paced heart beat. She sighed in relief, as the lights were on and the elevator moved again, but it was short lived.

"Basket, you hair. It's going into my nose." Armaan whined and pushed her hair aside onto her shoulder, unknown to its after effect.

Riddhima held her breath when his fingers brushed her nape, pulling her hair aside, and closed her eyes. It gave rise to some weird sensations in her which she didn't understand. But unusually, she didn't feel uncomfortable though she grew nervous.

Armaan was stumped, the next moment as he looked down. Her nape was bare and almost accessible to him, with his lips a couple of inches away. His mind went numb and forgetting the fact that they were in the elevator, he bent his head down unsure of what he wanted to do.

When Armaan, in a trance, was about to place his lips on her skin, he was suddenly brought back to planet earth, as Riddhima pulled herself out of his hold and ran out of the elevator. Startled, he looked around as to gauge what had just happened. He found the elevator empty and understood that the elevator was in the floor of his flat.

He ran his hand through his hair, shaking his head slightly off the clumsiness that suddenly invaded his brain. He smiled remembering what just happened a few minutes before. His smile transformed into a grin as he realized what he was just about to do a moment back. He stepped out of the elevator and turned back to have a glance of it.

'Can't you be a little slow?' he cursed the elevator for spoiling his moment but the next moment thanked it for the perfect timing, lest he could have done something stupid. That quickly turned his attention towards Riddhima. He ran to his flat and noticed her sitting on the couch with Raji smiling about something. He sighed in relief and went to his room, not sure whether he want to meet her eyes or not, after the intimate moment.

Riddhima looked everywhere but at him during the dinner. She tried to be perfectly normal around him but her heart absolutely refused to do so. Wherever he was near her, it beat madly almost making it impossible for her to breathe.

Raji sensed something different in her behavior and questioned Armaan through her eyes, to which Armaan only grinned showing his perfect dimples. Armaan was atleast happy she was not angry or disgusted at their proximity. She felt nervous but not uncomfortable and this was more than enough for him.

Finishing her dinner as fast as she can, Riddhima rushed into the kitchen to place her plate in the washtub. As she turned around after washing her hands, she bumped into Armaan, who held her by her waist, yet again to prevent her from falling.

As she looked up into his eyes, she didn't feeling like tearing away the gaze. She just stared into his eyes not knowing why she did so.

"Basket, stop staring at me." Riddhima was startled at his words and stepped back from him, looking away.

"uh..sorry. Good night." She mumbled and fled away from the kitchen as she found him grinning.

'God, could this get more embarrassing?' she muttered to herself as she fell on her bed and closed her eyes, not aware of who was waiting for her, in her dreams.

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


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Sushmita         

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