Monday, 6 April 2020


Next day past 5 they stop for fuel. 
Riddhima the restaurant looks great lets have something. 
Riddhima nod in yes , she was excited for the excuse to get out of the car for a while.
Armaan got out of the car and stretched his arms above his head—which lifted his hoodie just enough to make his stomach visible. “I’ll fill up,” he yawned. 
“Why don’t you go get us a table?” Armaan said.
Riddhima raised her eyes, hoping he hadn’t caught her staring. “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” Riddhima grabbed hold of her bag from the front seat, then proceeded to restaurant across the street.
She enter in the restaurant and server come and place two menus on the table.

I guess that hottie is with you. Server ask looking towards armaan.
Riddhima glance over Armaan and nod in yes.
Am jealous server said.
He is not my boyfriend Riddhima replied.
How come girl asked.
We are just driving together Riddhima replied.
Then to avoid more conversation Riddhima order coffee for both. 

But as soon as the server walked through the double doors to the back room, Riddhima found herself looking for Armaan again through the window. He was still standing at the pump talking on the phone, his other hand in his pocket, and his eyes were locked right on her. He waved, sending goose bumps and tingles loose throughout her entire body. She glanced back at the menu again, realizing she hadn’t felt this way in six years. Not since she was sixteen years old, and she sat too close to her best friend’s brother. God save her soul.

Armaan came into the building, bringing the wind and his large, dominating presence with him. He was impossible to ignore.
He grinned as he came closer, as though he’d missed her during their short separation. Armaan unzipped his coat, letting it drop down his shoulders before draping it across the back of his seat and sliding into the booth. “Anything sound good?”armaan asked, reaching out for a menu.
Riddhima cleared her throat, still slightly dazed as she nodded her head. “Well, it would be a shame not to try the soup.” Her voice was barely audible, but armaan smiled nonetheless. “You’re probably right.”
The server came forward, and set two mugs on the table while eyeing Riddhima warily. She didn’t say a word, but the way the girl watched her made Riddhima nervous. As though she’d seen Riddhima reaction to him entering the room. As though she knew everything Riddhima was feeling without her saying so.

“Are ya’ll ready to order?” Girl asked, filling their mugs with piping hot coffee. “Or do you want me to give you another minute?
” Armaan shrugged, lowering his menu to look at Riddhima . “I’m ready if you are.”

Riddhima took a breath, turning toward the server before nodding her head. She could feel the walls of doubt closing in around her. Doubts about this trip, her relationship, her sanity.
“Can I have half a grilled cheese, and a cup of soup, please? Split pea,” riddhima confirmed, then she rose from her seat without saying another word and excused herself to the bathroom.
Alone in a stall, Riddhima fished her phone from the bottom of her bag and called Sid. She needed to hear his voice, to hear him say he missed her, he loved her, anything that would ground her back to the life that seemed to be slipping through her fingers by the second.
Sid’s phone rang a half dozen times, then finally rolled to voice mail, making her heart drop.
“Hey babe,” riddhima began, her throat constricting as she thought of words to say. “We’re in Chippewa Nebraska.
It’s so cold I can see my breath.” Riddhima paused, resting her head on the wall and feeling almost sick. Riddhima began to laugh, not hard, but in a way that could easily shift to crying given the opportunity.

“I think it may rain before we stop; isn’t that crazy?” She pulled in a breath.
“I already miss our sunshine. I miss you.” But as the words crossed her lips, they didn’t quite feel genuine. They didn’t quite feel hers. “Call me.” She disconnected the call, lowering her head to set her ears between her knees.
But all she could think about were the words Armaan used back at her apartment. “I don’t remember much about you, either.” “Much.” What did that even mean? The more she thought about it, the more impossible it became to ignore.
Armaan had to remember something. Maybe not their time in the woods, but something. When riddhima finally made it back to her seat, their food was already set on the table, and her brow was set with determination to get some answers. Riddhima slid into the booth, finding Armaan relaxed and eating his meal, yet looking so perfect, Riddhima had to force herself to look away. Her mind was clouded with confusion. So much so, she could hardly see straight.
Because two days with Armaan had sent doubts about everything scorching through her veins.
Riddhima poured some creamer into her coffee, fetched a spoon from the table and began to stir. “What do you remember about me?” she whispered.
She meant for the words to sound confident, like one of the random questions asked around a bonfire. Like the ones they asked each other in the car.
But it came out unsure. Almost frightened. Not strong and steady like she’d intended them to.
Armaan brows furrowed and he put down his burger. “What do you mean?” He asked.
“I don’t know?” Riddhima shrugged.
“I mean, Anjali and I have been best friends for 15 years. You can’t possibly remember nothing…” Her words trailed off, and armaan pushed himself back in his seat and tilted his head.
“Hmm… I remember you always wore two braids.” He paused. “Split right down the middle on either side.”
He took a sip of coffee and grinned.
“I remember you played the flute.”
Riddhima nodded and began organizing the sugar packets, listening.
“That was me,” riddhima agreed. “Anything else?” Riddhima asked.
Armaan only shrugged, narrowing his eyes slightly as he sat forward.
“I remember…” But the way armaan looked at her made her heart start beating faster. Made her grab her spoon and take her first bite of soup.
“That you and anjali were so closed.” armaan said.

Riddhima took a breath, her lips curving downward. “Yeah,” she agreed. “We sure were.”
But then armaan did something that surprised her. He leaned forward and asked a question of his own. “What do you remember about me?”
His voice was low, almost suspicious. Which caused her heart to squeeze and run on overdrive. Riddhima glanced down at the table, grabbed a cloth napkin, and unfolded it in her lap before looking up again.
“I remember a lot,” she said. “I remember you were popular. I remember you having friends by your side every second.”
Riddhima looked up into his waiting eyes. “You were the quarterback for the West Valley Panthers.” She licked her lips, everything she wanted to say lingering at the tip of her tongue.
“I remember… all the summers we spent up at your family’s cabin.
Especially the last one.” Riddhima was proud of herself for saying it, but at the same time her chest filled with anxiety as she waited for him to speak.
Armaan took another sip of coffee, his eyes intense as he watched her. As though trying to read her thoughts. Riddhima could feel it. The tension accumulating between them. So tight it was as though they were both caught in a vice.
Armaan nodded slowly, a slight confirmation causing her nerves to ignite like fireworks inside her.
“The cabin,” armaan said, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand.
“I did some stupid stuff there.”

Her heart pinched at his statement and riddhima turned to look out the window again.
“Yeah.” Riddhima said. But what she really wanted to do was cry. “We all did.” She continue.
The server came then, breaking up their conversation to check on their meals. “Everything okay over here?” Girl asked, topping off their mugs with fresh coffee.

But when neither of them spoke, she left for the back room again, and Riddhima turned to face him. It was as though all the anger and frustration she’d kept bottled inside came exploding out of her.

“I remember a few more things,” riddhima began, her chin held as high as she could manage.
“You were a player. A cheater, and someone who cared about nothing but himself.”
Armaan took a long sip of coffee, his expression hardening before her very eyes. It was like a Armaan she’d never seen before. A Armaan she never wanted to see again. He pulled out his wallet and placed a couple of twenties on the table before getting up to leave.
“You’re right. That’s exactly who I am. Exactly.” Armaan said.
Riddhima cringed, her heart aching because she knew she’d hurt him. She’d meant to, even though he’d done nothing but tell her the truth… Though now she felt like a complete bitch.
“Armaan , wait!” She said stopping him. But he didn’t listen. His large legs had already carried him halfway across the restaurant, far away from her and her tongue that had lashed out to hurt.
Back in the car.
Both are not talking to each other Riddhima is feeling bad. But she ignored.
She is in bad mood so she busy herself in book.
Riddhima felt the car slow, decreasing in speed at a steady rate that caused panic to lurch in her chest. She quickly opened her eyes, sure they hadn’t been on the road long enough to justify stopping, and realized they were pulling off to the side of the road—on a pitch black two-lane highway—in the middle of nowhere.

Riddhima pulled the ear buds from her ears and straightened. “What are you doing?” she asked.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to go to the bathroom out there.” But there was something different about the way they were moving, like something was wrong, and a sinking feeling settled in the bottom of her gut.
“We ran out of gas, didn’t we?” Riddhima ask.
The car rolled to a full stop, and Armaan , who still hadn’t said a word, put it in park. “I filled up less than three hours ago.

Riddhima shoved her book back in her purse and swallowed. A cold draft rushed over her face and neck as Armaan got out of the car.

She quickly followed after him, wrapped in her red wool blanket. “I can’t believe this!
I told you this would happen.

Armaan lifted the hood and propped it open. “For the last time, we didn’t run out of gas!”

Armaan pulled his cell from his pocket and flipped on the flashlight. “Something’s wrong. It’s just too dark to see what.”

He turned around to sit against the car, then held his phone up in the air and moved it side to side looking for a signal.

“Shit! There’s no service.” Armaan said.

Riddhima closed her eyes, not allowing herself to panic. “What are we going to do?” Riddhima asked.
Armaan zipped his jacket all the way up to his chin, closed the hood, then finally looked at her. “You’re going to get back into the car. I’m going to go try to find help.”

“Like hell I am! I’m coming with you.” Riddhima said.
“Riddhima .” He closed his eyes, his head lulling back to his shoulders. She knew what he was going to say. That it was too dangerous, that he was big and heroic, that he was going to take care of her like the male chauvinistic ass that he was, but instead, he surprised her by looking up again.
Riddhima waited for him to speak, to tell her why she couldn’t come, but he said nothing.
His blue eyes reached hers, making her feet unstable. He finally shook his head, as though not sure what he was getting himself into, and turned on his heels. “Fine.” Armaan said.
It took only a moment for her to recover, to realize she’d actually won the argument, and to hurry after him. How had she won so easily?

Why did Armaan malik keep surprising her at every turn? She wasn’t sure of the answer; all she knew was that her teeth were already chattering and she had left her warm jacket back in the car.
“Where are we? How close are we to the next town?” Riddhima asked.
“Iowa,” he answered. But that was all he said. Because he didn’t know how far they were to the next town. He didn’t know anything at all. Riddhima took her phone from her pocket, and held it up to illuminate their path.
“Has this ever happened to you before?” she asked.
“No.”armaan ans.
“Are you sure we’re not out of gas?” She again ask.
“Yes.” Armaan said.
“How do you know?” Silence.
“Armaan , how do you know?” She asked A chill ran up her spine, though it wasn’t from the cold this time. It was because of him. He raked his fingers through his hair, giving away his stress, and that made her even more nervous. He was the guy who let everything roll off his shoulders. Who didn’t give a shit. But now—
“Because I know my car,” armaan finally said.
“Oh God,” she whispered. Only to herself, but that didn’t matter. He stopped dead in his tracks. Turned around, and looked her dead in the eye. “Do you have a problem?”
Riddhima clenched her jaw, telling herself to be quiet, but she couldn’t. “Yeah. Actually, I do.”
She lifted her chin, higher than she felt confident, and took a step toward him. “I’m supposed to be at my best friend’s bachelorette party in two days. Two. And you’re giving me the cold shoulder and saying things like, ‘I know my car.’

” He laughed under his breath and pressed his thumb and forefinger into his eye sockets.
“What do you want me to say, Riddhima ? What?”
“I don’t know! I want you to give me a real fucking answer!” Riddhima said
Armaan snapped! Picked up a rock, and threw it into the dark forest—so hard that the sound echoed through the secluded night. He took a breath, as though frustrated and out of control, as though he was trying to compose himself enough to face her.

He finally turned around, his jaw tight and clenched, but so much emotion was etched on his face that her eyes immediately went blurry with regret. It was as though a thick blanket smothered the Armaan she’d known all her life.
His confidence, his smile, his easy nature.
“It’s my fault, is that what you want me to say? That it’s my fucking fault?”

Tears rushed to her nose and throat. Riddhima couldn’t bear to see him this way.
“No,” she said. “No, that isn’t it at all.
” He gripped his forehead and turned around again. “I should have never agreed to this. I should have said no. Armaan said
” She froze, her heart thumping.
“Agreed to what?” she asked, standing still.
Armaan turned around, squeezed his eyes shut as if not realizing the words had come from his mouth. “Nothing.” He said
“No.” She wrapped her arms around her belly, not letting it go.
“What did you agree to, Armaan ?”

He remained silent, giving her all the answer she needed. She looked down to her feet, tears stinging the backs of her eyes.
“Anjali talked you into this, didn’t she? You don’t want to be here any more than I do.” “Riddhima —” But she shook her head, stopping him.
“Look—I’m frustrated, too.” Armaan moved toward her. “But we’re in this together. Armaan said.
” Emotion quickly gathered in her chest, and she clenched her arms at her side.
“I know.” Riddhima said.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. Armaan said.
” She nodded, her chin quivering.

But scared wasn’t the feeling that was cutting her like a knife. It was something else. Something heartbreakingly difficult for her to admit to. Because hearing that he didn’t want to be there sent a chill over her entire body.
He came closer still and draped his heavy jacket around her shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Riddhima .” Armaan tightened the jacket around her shivering body, fastening it at the bottom before zipping it up to her chin. But armaan didn’t move away. He stayed there a second too long, his thumb by her chin, causing all the air to expel from her lungs. Riddhima looked up to his throat, only inches from her lips. She wanted to kiss it, to wrap her arms around his large body and have him hold her. To hold him. It was so cold she could see her breath. So cold their breaths mingled together, and for some reason, she stepped closer.
She wasn’t sure if it was his warmth that drew her in. The heat that radiated from his muscles and bones. Or if it was the pain in his eyes. It seemed to say a thousand words all on its own.
That he was sorry, that he was scared, too. But it wasn’t an average “I’m sorry.” It was a sorry from a man who carried the world on his shoulders—who took the blame for everything, even when it wasn’t his fault.
Her mind screamed to move away. To not get too close to the man who had shattered her heart after only one night, to get away before it was too late, but she couldn’t. Riddhima craved to be close to him, even though she knew it would bring nothing but pain to too many people. Armaan placed his hand on her hip, wrapping his fingers around her lower back and exerting pressure.
As though he needed her just as much as she needed him. As though he’d given up on resisting her and the gravity that pulled them together.
Riddhima lifted her chin, knowing it was wrong, but knowing she couldn’t stop it. Whatever was between them was stronger than her will. Stronger than her conscious. But as their lips touched for the briefest moment, a set of dull headlights began to shine in the distance. As though a higher being had rushed in to save her from herself. Armaan turned around, clearing his throat as if he himself had been caught in the same spell.
He took his phone out of his pocket and waved it overhead.
“Hey!” he yelled. “Hey! Over here!” A moment later, down the long flat road, came a beat up old van with a million stickers on the windows. The door opened, and a woman with a large pregnant belly hopped down to the road. She rested her hands on her lower back, exaggerating the ripe, swollen shape, and shined a bright flashlight over their faces, blinding them.
“Now what in the devil’s name are you two doin’ all the way out here?” The woman’s name was Martha. They learned that soon enough. “It’s a good thing I stumbled upon you two.”
Riddhima nodded.
“I’m afraid the closest payphone is over a hundred miles away and we don’t have a cell tower yet. They say it’s coming martha continue.
She waited for them to gather their things, while Riddhima and Armaan thanked her profusely for her generosity.
Martha helped them take them to her house and give them one room to rest.

Both was stay quiet for some time.
Riddhima what was that armaan asked.
I don’t know and I don’t want to talk about that. Riddhima said.
ok as you say armaan said moving towards window.
Riddhima scan the room and again current ran into her body.
Because no she is standing with the man with whom she shared a kiss. She controls her heartbeat. And close her eyes.
Armaan I can’t share bed. Riddhima said.
But as riddhima turns she found him on couch already asleep.
She then settle down on bed.

Next day martha drop them to next town to garage where mechanic check the car and inform them that car will take at least 1 day so they can come tomorrow morning to pick up the car. And also give the nearby motel address.
Riddhima is so annoyed she want to reach New York as soon as possible but she is again stuck with armaan for one more day.
So armaan and riddhima is now inside the motel and armaan is inquiring about the room.
Riddhima this hotel has only one room.
No I can’t share room she said.
Riddhima there is only one hotel and next is 200 miles away from here.
Ok fine take this riddhima replied.
He just nod and get busy with the manger.
When her cell began vibrating in her pocket, Riddhima walked toward the door to the courtyard.
“Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” She said to armaan.
She pushed through the glass doors and walked a good distance over to the tree by the pool “Hello?” she answered softly. “Hey!” Sid said. “Finally. God, it’s been hard to get ahold of you. I got your message. Are you okay? You need anything?” Sid ask.
Riddhima let her back rest on the smooth bark, lolling her head back and taking in the peaceful yard around her.
“We’re fine. It’s only the radiator cap. Can you believe it? I had no idea such a thing was so important.” Riddhima said.
Sid laughed in response. “Me either, honestly.”
She nodded, set her bag on the ground, and turned to face the pool.
It was completely empty, so peaceful.

“Other than that, are things going okay?” Sid ask.

She took a step forward, a tightness in her belly growing with each second.
“Yeah. How are things with you? How’s the new gig?” Riddhima ask.
There was a smile in his voice. “Busy…” Sid. went on to tell her about his boss, about working until eight at night, and how he’d already lost five pounds. But then he cleared his throat, and riddhima realized there was something he needed to say.
“I’ve actually been trying to get hold of you for a while now,” sid said. His voice lowering before he spoke again.
“They’re sending me to San Francisco this weekend. I won’t be able to make it to the wedding.
” Riddhima ’s knees went weak, and she grabbed hold of the bench in front of her to hold herself steady.
“What do you mean? Can’t you get out of it?” She asked.
“Ridzi , I’m not going to tell them I can’t go. It’s a huge opportunity.” Sid said.
“But the wedding has been planned for months!” Riddhima said.
“I know, but when your boss needs you for a favor, you do it. The fact he wanted me there is a big deal sid said.
She closed her eyes, thinking about all the times Anjali had warned her about this. About him always putting work and his dreams before her.
“What about me? What about what I want, what I need?” She asked.
“Riddhima , don’t blow this out of proportion—” sid said
“What? You’re acting like I’m being ridiculous, but I told you about this six months ago.” Riddhima said.
“I know, but plans change. This is a really important step in my career, Ridzi . I’m sorry it means I’m going to have to let you down, but I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” Sid said.
Before she could open her mouth to respond, he muffled the phone. “My boss is coming. We’ll talk when you get home.” He was gone. Leaving her with tears rolling down her cheeks. Tears of rejection and anger. Of confusion, frustration, and embarrassment. She looked down to her phone and opened up a text:
Riddhima : No need to talk. We’re over. I’m done. She closed her eyes, her body trembling. She meant every word of it. With every fiber of her being. Every drop of blood, sweat, and tears she’d put into their relationship.
She was done. She put her phone in her back pocket, then turned around to see Armaan watching. Standing in the path that led straight to her. His legs were braced apart, his hands stuffed deep in the pockets of his jeans.
“You okay?” Armaan looked concerned, beautiful, and so completely dangerous Riddhima didn’t know what to do. She let out a sob, wiping over her face with her hand. “Yeah, I’m fine.” She said.
“Riddhima …” He stepped closer. But she shook her head, stopping him.
“We broke up.” She cried.
“He’s not coming.” Armaan stepped closer still, ignoring her wishes. Riddhima heaved out a heavy breath. “Aren’t you going to say I told you so?”
“I’m so sorry,” armaan said. His response was the opposite of what she’d expected. He said it with emotion. As though his own heart was breaking to see her in pain. As though all he wanted to do was hold her. She looked down to her feet. So many emotions rolled around her chest, she could hardly breathe. It was as though every emotion, every disappointment over the last six months had come crashing to the surface—and her whole world was falling apart for him to witness.
Her career, her friendship, her relationship. All ending, and she didn’t want to hear he was sorry. She wanted to punch something. To scream, and yell, and hurt something the way she hurt inside.

“No!” She shouted, looking him in the eye. “Everything in my life is falling apart, and I don’t want to hear any bullshit responses like I’m sorry.” Armaan stepped toward her, holding out his arms, offering her comfort.
Riddhima stepped backward, emotion causing her own throat to choke her.
“I should have never agreed to this.
I should have just said no.” She was throwing his words back in his face, wanting to push him away.
He was scary, and he was Anjali ’s brother, and she didn’t know if she could resist him when he looked at her like that. She took another step backward, just as Armaan lunged to grab her—but it was too late.
“Riddhima !” Armaan shouted.
But she’d already hit the water, and was sinking to the bottom of the pool. She let herself fall. Allowing the cool water to lift her hair and make her feel lighter than she had in months.......
There was a large splash above her, and soon Armaan ’s arms were wrapped around her waist, holding her body, forcing her back to the surface.
Riddhima didn’t want to go, she didn’t want his arms around her, she didn’t want any of it! She pushed at his arms, kicking her legs as hard as she could.
“Let me go!” Riddhima yell.
“Riddhima , stop!” Armaan requested.
“Let me go!” But he didn’t answer.
He kept swimming with her over to the side of the pool until they both reached the shallow end. He put her down, her clothes and hair plastered to her face and body.
“Why wouldn’t you let me go?” She sobbed.
“Why?” she demanded.
“Because you can’t swim!” He finally said. Riddhima suddenly stopped. Heaving as though all the oxygen had been expelled from her lungs......
Because she could swim. She’d learned her junior year of high school. Right after the summer she’d spent with Armaan .
“You remember.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement of fact. That was the only way his statement made any sense.
He was quiet a moment, but he grabbed her cheek as though trying to force her to look at him. “Riddhima —”
“No!” she shouted again, pushing him away “You remember. Don’t you?” Riddhima ask.
Armaan only nodded, but his eyes never faltered.
“Everything?” she questioned.
“Yes.” He answered.
She wiped over her face, over tears, and hurt, and anger. She brushed her hair back behind her ears and began walking toward the steps. “I’m going to our room to change. Then I’m going to get drunk. Don’t wait up for me.” Riddhima said.
“Riddhima —”
“Don’t wait up.” She said.
But before she stepped into the lobby to grab a key, she turned around and looked at him one last time. “And I know how to swim now, you asshole.”

Armaan sighs he stand there for some time then he move towards hotel room.
Riddhima is drinking whiskey from afternoon she is almost drunk bartender is listening her nonsense and some time she speaks about her heartbreak. He is listening everything with patience.
Then he look towards the door from where armaan enter in the bar.

I guess he is the man about whom you were talking.
Riddhima turn and look towards armaan who come and sit on bench and order whiskey .
Riddhima turn back to bartender.
Shhhh don’t tell him ok Riddhima whispers.
Bartender nod in yes.
She turn towards armaan and speak
“My phone died,” she said as a way of breaking the ice. “It was in my pocket when I fell into the pool.” Armaan nodded, but still didn’t look over. “I figured as much.” She smoothed her loose hair behind ears, then took a small sip of her drink.
The alcohol loosened her insides, but her outside was still hard and tense.
“How did you find me?” Riddhima asked, both curious and apprehensive.
He looked up, meeting her eyes for the first time since he got there.
“This is the fifth bar I’ve been to.” Armaan sais.
She cringed, looking down toward her drink again. “I didn’t mean to worry you.” She said.
He shrugged, his voice deep and hollow. “Well you did.” Armaan said.
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you, and I’m sorry, but it seems my whole world is falling in around me. You were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Riddhima said.
Armaan turned in his seat, just a little, and took another sip of whiskey. “Do you want to talk about it?” He asked.
At first she shook her head, but then she thought better of it and nodded. Maybe it was the alcohol, or the fact that she felt so utterly alone, but she needed someone to talk to. Someone to care about all that she’d been through.
“You know,” she began. “Out of all the people I could imagine myself talking to about my problems with, it was never you.” She laughed. “No offense.”
Armaan shrugged slightly before meeting her eyes. “None taken.” But his brows furrowed, and he nodded his head, indicating she should begin.
She tore the corner of her cocktail napkin, not knowing at all where to start.

To confess about how Anjali moving away had rocked her off her axis. Or the fact that seeing him after all these years made her question every minute of her six year long relationship? She decided to start with something a little less intimidating.

“I had a gallery opening last month,” she began. “One I’ve been planning for my entire life.” She glanced up, finding his expression attentive, his eyes boring into hers. “It was a total flop. I sold nothing at all.” She placed her feet on the rung of her stool, while trying to make sense of it all. “The thing is, people have been telling me my whole life that art wasn’t something people succeeded at. That I would struggle. That I wouldn’t make ends meet. But I was stubborn. So sure of myself until that moment—with my name in lights above my head, watching all those people pass by without stopping—That I realized how true it all was.”
She took a large gulp of her drink, hoping to push down the emotion that seemed to be climbing up her throat inch by inch. “The sad part is it took me this long to discover I’m wasting my time. To realize I’ve wasted so many years of my life on a stupid dream.
” His voice cut in, deep and firm, making her heart jump. “Does it make you happy?he asked.
” She looked at him, searching his light blue eyes as tears brimmed in her own. She’d never been asked that question before. Never by a single soul before him. “No. It makes me frustrated, and angry, and…”
He turned to face her, setting his booted feet firmly on the ground.
“Forget about the money. Forget about the gallery opening. Does your art make you happy?” Armaan asked.
She looked into his eyes, wiping at the corner of her nose with her cocktail napkin. “Yes. Yes, it makes me happy,” she whispered.
“Then it’s worth it.” He said smiling.
She pulled in a shaky breath, her heart pounding in a way she hadn’t felt in years. She didn’t know what made him come find her, or what spurred his sudden interest in her happiness, but she couldn’t help her own curiosity.
“What makes you happy, Armaan ?” The corner of his mouth lifted and he looked down to his feet. She asked.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. He said
” Her chest heaved and she took another sip of her drink. “Try me.”
Armaan looked up then, his eyes crystal clear and sparkling despite the dim lights above the bar.
“You do, he said meeting her eyes.
Riddhima Smiles.” He reached out to wipe a tear that glistened on the bottom of her cheek.
“Seeing you again has made me happier than I’ve been in a long time.he said
” She didn’t know what to say, but her heart was pounding so hard she knew she wouldn’t be able to find words. Because she realized in that moment that he made her happy, too. This trip had been crazy, and emotional, and a complete disaster at times, but she’d never had more fun in her whole life.
She planted her feet firmly on the rail of her barstool, trying with all her might to keep her world from spinning.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, her chin quivering. “I’m sorry I said all those things. I didn’t mean them. I didn’t mean any of it.”
His finger brushed over her lips, shushing her. He eased himself off the barstool, took a couple of twenties out of his wallet, and tossed them in the direction of the bartender.
“Let’s go. Let’s get out of here and get some sleep.” He said.
She swallowed, wishing desperately that the feeling suddenly rolling in her belly was caused from too much alcohol. But it wasn’t. That feeling came from falling for a man—maybe for the first real time in her adult life. A feeling of wanting him so desperately her heart ached with it.
“I wanted to hate you,” she whispered. “But I don’t.” Riddhima said.
“I know.” Armaan said.
She stumbled out of her chair, dragging her bag from the top of the bar, as she continued toward the door.
“I don’t hate you, Armaan malik , and that scares the hell out of me.” She continued walking, not bothering to look over her shoulder to make sure he was following. She knew he was. She felt him with every hair on her body, every drop of blood that surged to the surface of her skin.
“I don’t hate you either, Riddhima Gupta . I never have.” Armaan said smiling.
Armaan help her to the room as they enter in the room a chill ran down to her spine she found a single bed and the man whom she loved she take her clothes from bag and run in washroom.

Riddhima stared at her reflection. Her cheeks were pink and flushed, her lips red from crying too much, but she didn’t hate what she saw. Her hair was down, a little wild from drying on its own. It framed her round face perfectly. She looked pretty. Sexy even—and she was single for the first time in her adult life. She looked to the door leading back to Armaan and frowned.
Because behind that door was a single king-sized bed, and a man who sent shivers down her body and spine. Not knowing what to do with this information, she quickly changed. It wasn’t something she should even consider. Something she should think about at all. After brushing her teeth and splashing water on her face, she opened the door.
Armaan was sitting on the side of the bed, his long legs sprawled out in front of him, making him look large and confident. He looked into her eyes, down to her white t-shirt, then farther, to the sliver of blue that peeked out from the hem of her shirt. Perhaps it was the alcohol thinning her blood that made her do it, or the way he was looking at her, but she walked toward him, without a word, and stood between his legs. He looked up at her, his voice deep with warning. “What are you doing?” Armaan asked.
Riddhima shook her head, her hair hanging loose around her shoulders.
“I don’t know,” Riddhima whispered. “I don’t want to think anymore.” Her heart was beating wildly, like a frightened bird, begging to be set free, but she couldn’t make herself move away. She wanted him, wanted him so badly she couldn’t think straight. She fell to her knees, to the patch of bed between his thighs, and he didn’t move away. They were face-to-face for the first time in far too long, their hearts beating as one, and her body surged with awareness. She couldn’t resist him any longer. She didn’t have to. His scent was all too familiar, and she remembered it like it was yesterday. Masculine, earthy, raw.
“I want you so bad it scares me,” she whispered.
He let out a hard breath. “Riddhima .” There was a warning in his voice, low and soft, but he wrapped his arms around her waist, contradicting himself.
He buried his nose in her hair. As though he knew this was a bad idea, knew it would lead to nothing but pain, yet he couldn’t walk away any more than she could. He needed her just as much as she needed him. Like the sea needed the shore, like he needed oxygen to breath. “How many drinks have you had?” Armaan asked.
His breath in her ear sent goose bumps down the length of her body. She arched her back, allowing his five o’clock shadow to brush against her neck and her sensitive skin.
“It doesn’t matter,” Riddhima whispered. She pushed her fingers through his hair, gripping him, cupping his skull.
She touched her lips to his throat, inhaling deeply. A groan came from within him, deep and guttural.
Armaan shifted her to his lap and pulled her closer until her legs were spread and she was straddling his hips.
The hard fabric of his waistband pressed against her , and the thin fabric of her shorts was doing nothing to dull her senses. The friction sent a surge of fire to grow in her belly. So strong she had to stop herself from calling out. At first she froze, because she wasn’t sure how far she wanted to take this. She’d broken up with Sid less than six hours ago.
She and Armaan still had two days ahead of them on their trip, but her body quickly took over all thought. Her hips moved, almost involuntarily, as though she couldn’t take any more deprivation. She’d denied herself too long, lied to herself too long, and her body was finally protesting. She lowered her mouth to his neck, letting her tongue run along the sensitive skin of his throat.
“You make me feel things, Armaan . Things I’ve never felt before with anyone.” She said.
Armaan groaned again, grabbed hold of her face and kissed her. It wasn’t soft, and it wasn’t sweet. It was rough and textured and layered with want. ,She could feel the tension building, His hands held her face steady while his tongue pushed into her mouth. It was a hungry kiss, a starving one. It was so urgent, raw, overwhelming, that she almost forgot to breathe. The tension climbed inside her, excitement all-consuming, freeing her thoughts and senses. They were both completely clothed, yet she’d never been more aroused in her life.
As quickly as it all started, he lifted her from his body and tossed her onto the bed. He rose to his feet, as if he’d just been pricked by something sharp, and raked his hands through his hair. He stepped backward, shaking his head. “I’m sorry. I can’t.”
Every feeling of want collapsed inside of her, the heat in her belly quickly became frigid, like a bucket of ice had just been dumped over her head. She was mortified. Nauseated. She rolled to the side of the bed and put her feet to the ground. Her stomach churned sickeningly. “Riddhima ,” he said, still out of breath. But she didn’t answer. She couldn’t, because if she opened her mouth, she might cry.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
She closed her eyes, knowing full well she wasn’t, but taking every last drop of willpower, she turned to face him. He looked tired. Tortured. Confused.
“Yes,” she whispered. “I couldn’t be better.” She rose to her feet, walked to the bathroom, and flicked on the shower.
It was six years later, yet she’d let the same thing happen. Somehow he’d snuck under her walls, made her believe he’d changed, yet he couldn’t have been more the same. He was the same Armaan who’d broken her heart all those years ago, and she was stupid enough to let him do it again. She stayed in the shower longer than necessary. Washing every inch of skin he’d touched. Every bit of her he’d kissed. She then stayed longer—until all the water ran ice cold and her body was numb........
She stepped back into the room, praying he’d gone to sleep, and found him lying in the corner of the room with a pillow. He didn’t have any blankets, any comfort at all, but she didn’t care. She climbed into the large bed alone, her hair still wet from her shower, and lay there, staring up at the ceiling, until she finally fell asleep.

Hey everyone here is the next part hope you guys like this
Lots of love
Akanksha 💕💕

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