Thursday, 1 October 2020

Part 16 : In My Heart

Armaan stood lost in the moment, he couldn't believe at last his wait was over and His Basket had made it to him.
"You! You ignored me, ignored all my calls, messages, emails, hell every effort that I made to get to you? How dare you make a decision all by yourself? How dare you leave me once again? I want an answer Armaan Mallik, NOW." Riddhima yelled at a dazed Armaan forgetting about the audience they had. His trance broke as he saw the security guard coming forward to hold Riddhima. Armaan gestured by his hand for the guard and his PA to leave and closed the door taking Riddhima inside.

The entire staff was curious to know who the Lady was, who got away with yelling at their boss, but were glued to their seats reluctantly trying to concentrate on the tasks at hand while giving looks to their colleagues. Their Boss, Armaan Mallik, was a man of principles, good natured but at times anger got the best of him. He had been in a foul mood for few days now, ever ready to kill anyone who made a mistake. They were very well acquainted with the outcome of Armaan's anger, and hence avoided him like plague. After about 30 minutes the door of the conference room opened. Armaan along with Riddhima and the board members exited the room.



Armaan wanted to grab and crush Riddhima to himself, never letting go, but for now he had a task at hand and so he entwined his fingers with Riddhima and lead her to the center of the floor. He cleared his throat to gain everyone's attention.

"I want to introduce you all to somebody. This is Riddhima Garewal soon to be Armaan Mallik. My Love, Life, fianc and soon to be wife." He held her waist possessively while speaking. "I know I've been hard with all of you for the past few days. So as an apology and also as I have what I wanted by my side now, I give you all the remaining day off for bearing with me." The whole hall echoed with claps as the employees cheered as their Boss made the announcement.

"Ms. Crystal from next time please don't make Riddhima wait. She should be shown to me immediately, even if I am in a meeting." he directed his PA.

"Please also do cancel all my appointments for today before leaving." Armaan rolled his eyes seeing Riddhima pout, he understood her complain.

"Umm. Please cancel all my meetings for a week. I will work from home; you can contact me if something is urgent. For now, I don't want any calls or disturbance."

Armaan crushed Riddhima into his arms as soon as they closed the door of his cabin. He held her tightly against himself, his hold getting even tighter by the passing minute. Riddhima reciprocated the hug with equal vigor and even when his hold started to hurt, she remained calm because she knew his state.

"I missed you so much." Armaan said. She smiled as Armaan showered her face with urgent kisses. Both sat down in complete silence on the huge black leather sofa, with Armaan sitting on the floor resting his head in Riddhima's lap and arms wrapped around her waist. The silence and closeness worked as a remedy for their aching hearts.

"Armaan." she said ruffling his hair softly.

"Not now. Let me feel you near me." he replied nuzzling his nose in her stomach.

"Sorry. I'm sorry for everything Riddhima." Armaan spoke after a while.

"Don't say sorry. Why did you do all this? Why did you tell Papa everything?" she asked softly.

"I'll explain all but tell me how did you get to know?" Armaan asked moving away a bit.

Riddhima told him the details of what happened the earlier day, how she forced Prem to tell his whereabouts and reached him.

"You shouldn't have come like this Riddhima. You should have stayed back and talked to your parents. I wanted you to hear your parents, understand their view, the situation and then make a decision." he said looking away.

"What do you mean by shouldn't have come here? You didn't want me to come to you?" she asked pulling him to face her.

"Aisa nahin hai Riddhima. I was dying to hear your voice once but I wanted you to listen to your parents too. I knew you would come to me, sooner or later but I wanted it to be the right way. Tum ghar pe kisi ko bina batae aa gayi ho. Sujal uncle will think I forced you to take this step."

"Oh, suddenly everything is about Sujal uncle now. I don't matter to you anymore. Here I thought you would be happy to see me. But nahin, aisa to kuch nai hai. I'll leave now, if that's what you want. Move." Riddhima said angrily, pushing his hands away from her. Armaan stood up and stepped away from her. Riddhima's mouth fell open seeing him make no attempt to stop her. She picked her purse and turned to leave. But before she could take a step, she was pulled down in his lap and tight hold.

"Sorry wo main neechey baithey baithey thak gaya tha. Socha position change kar loon. This is so comforting." he spoke adjusting his head in the crook of her neck as she fidgeted in his hold.

"Leave me. I want to go."

"I won't, now stop moving before I start with something else." he said nuzzling her neck. She stilled immediately understanding what he meant. Armaan continued to trace the outlines of her neck and exposed shoulders with his nose and lips.

"I've stopped moving. Now you stop." she spoke as sternly as possible.

"Why? When did I say I'll stop after you stop? In fact I think we should continue this only, talking can wait."

"Armaan, stop this non-sense and leave me."

"Tch, tumhien aik baar mein samajh nahin ata na. Idher dekho, dekho. Basket. Agar tum gussa hogi to main kuch nahin samjha paon ga. Please meri taraf dekho." he spoke softly willing her to look up in to his eyes.

"Yeh sab tumhare liye hi hai Meri Jaan. Kyunki main chahta hoon tum hamesha khush raho."

"That's why you took such a big decision and came here, leaving me all alone."

"You weren't alone. You never will be. I'll always be by your side. I just came here because I wanted you to listen to your parents once and rethink about our relationship."

"What do you mean by 'rethink'? Are you having second thoughts about us? Are you going to leave me again?" Armaan shook his head as she mistook his words.

"Where will I go? You are my life, how can I live without my life? Don't take wrong meaning of my words. Listen to me carefully and don't jump to conclusions before I complete what I have to say, okay?" he cradled her closer to himself in his lap.

"Riddhima, I told your father the complete truth about us because I couldn't ask for your hand otherwise. I know you didn't want me to tell this and I know the reason perfectly well too. I didn't want to begin our relationship with a lie, and hiding the truth would have meant the same. I don't want your parents to think or regret that they've given their daughter to somebody who was not worth her, when they get to know the truth later. You know it Riddhima, aik na aik din ye sach saamne aa jaye ga. You can't hide it forever. Rite?" she nodded in response.

"Doosri baat, main yahan is liye aa gaya kyunki tumhare Dad chahte they. Unho ne mujhse kaha kay main tumhein bhool jaon, wo tou main mar.." Riddhima covered his mouth with her palm, shaking her head in negative. Armaan kissed her palm lovingly and held it in his hand.

"He wants me to stay away from you. He said he can't forgive me. Riddhima, I know you want to be with me, so do I but I will never ask you to marry me against your parents' wish. I want you to listen to them, they are right. I have only given you pain and tears, always."

"Armaaan. No. Hush." she silenced him putting her finger on his lips.

"You've never hurt me intentionally. And you've made up for all those times already. It's all in the past now. Why do you keep going back there? Papa se main baat karoon gi, I know he will never refuse. And even if he does, I will still marry only you." Armaan smiled at her.

"Riddhima, it's not matter of days or months, it's a lifetime. I don't want to ruin your ties with your parents due to me. You will never be happy without them."

"I'll always be happy as long as I have you with me." Armaan kissed her forehead lovingly.

"It's not as easy as you think Riddhima. Marriage changes your life. Your priorities, duties, responsibilities are all changed, everything is directed towards the new family you go in. You come across new feelings, things, I mean Riddhima there are many stages where a girl requires the love and support of her mother like never before. Nobody can replace the love of a mother. I know this because I've seen Maa yearn for her mother. My Naani died when Maa was a kid and since then Bi has stood by Maa's side at every step she needed her mother. She's come across a long way, Dad's, his family's and her kids, we've filled her life with love and joys but the void in her heart never fills. Maa never had a choice but you do. I will never want you to go through it even for a minute. That is why I want you to listen to them. Hmm." Armaan looked down at Riddhima and found silent tears rolling down her cheeks. Riddhima instantly hid herself in his chest and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Kya hua, why are you crying? Baby please don't cry. Dekho I'm sorry. I didn't say all this to hurt you. I just wanted to tell you my reason for all this. Please ro mat."

"I'm sorry. I love you Armaan." she said softly pushing herself into his chest.

"You're crying because you're sorry you love me?" he said and chuckled as she hit his back.

"Why do you always think about me? Tumne jo bhi kiya mere liye kiya, tumhara kya Armaan? Why didn't you think about yourself and what you want?" she spoke looking in to his eyes.

"Tum mujhe abhi achi tarah se jaanti nahin ho Riddhima. I'm a very selfish guy. Har cheez apni khushi keliye karta hoon." he smiled.

"Acha, kahan hai tumhari khushi?" she asked sniffing.

"Yahan." he said and took her in a soft kiss. As they parted to breathe, he joined their foreheads and continued speaking, "Tum mein hai meri har khushi. Tum khush tou main bhi khush." Riddhima caressed his cheek lovingly and lost herself in the depths of his eyes.

"Agar papa nahi maney to phir kya hoga Armaan? Main.. I can't stay without you."

"Riddhima don't worry. Tum unhe samjhana, I'm sure wo tumhari baat zaroor manien gey. He's angry and upset because he was unaware of all this for so long and he's right in his place. But he'll never force you to do anything against your wish. He loves you a lot."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Kyunki main bhi yehi karta agar un ki jagah hota and if somebody would have hurt Our daughter." It was Riddhima's turn to kiss his forehead and be lost in each other once again.

"Armaan, yeh kya kar rahey ho?" she squealed as he lifted her bridal style and carried her to his desk to attend a call.

"Kya hua?" she asked settled in his lap on his office chair.

"Nothing, Crystal had called to inform she was leaving and your luggage is in my car. So I guess we should leave too. You must be hungry as well."

"Umm.. Armaan can we order something here only?"

"Kya baat hai, lagta aap ko bohat zyada pasand aa gaya office. Batao kya lo gi?" They enjoyed their lunch together in the confines of Armaan's office and later both cuddled on the sofa.

Riddhima's hands moved around as she searched her duvet. She groaned when she couldn't grasp anything to cover herself from the cold air. A hand held her head and waist as she was rolled. Riddhima sighed in contentment as she felt the warmth and slept. It was late in the evening as the room was dark except for the light coming in from the window. Armaan lifted himself on his elbows and looked at her pouting as she felt cold. He leaned in to trace her face and exposed skin with his nose. She giggled softly as his stubble tickled her and held his head from moving making him smile too.

A white SUV stopped in front of the iron gates of 'Shanti Nagar'. Armaan looked on lost in his thoughts. Riddhima placed her hand on his on the steering wheel, making him turn towards her.

"It's late, you should go. Riddhima I'm sorry I couldn't take you home with me. I want to but it won't be right because we'll be alone. I don't want anyone to point fingers on you or our relation. Please.." he said entwining their fingers but was cut by Riddhima.

"I know, you don't have to explain."

"Dadi?" he whispered.

"Don't worry Armaan; I'll handle everything if you promise one thing."

"What?"

"Don't go away from me."

"I won't. I can't live without you, I love you so much Jaan." How much ever he wanted to go in and meet everyone, he couldn't, not like this. Tomorrow, he thought and sped away as she entered the gates.

After the initial shock of seeing Riddhima standing at the door step the whole villa was filled with screams of delight. All the kids had rushed to her taking her in for a bear hug which she responded gladly. The dinner time had been a noisy and happy affair. Kids were adamant on skipping schools next day but somehow Riddhima had managed to convince them not to as it was weekend the next day and she promised them to make it special for them. She helped everyone get in their beds and left the room wishing them a good night. Tears rolled out of her eyes as soon as she closed the door of kids room. She hadn't missed on the longing looks kids had passed at the door, she knew they were waiting for Armaan but she involved them with her so that they forget about it for now. Riddhima decided to make Armaan visit here and end this wait for the kids. She couldn't tolerate how they longed to be with him as she knew how torturous it was. Armaan was somebody everyone fell in love with. He was just plain lovable, she smiled thinking of him. She wiped her tears as she heard Dadi calling her name. She gulped hard and closed her eyes once saying a little prayer in her heart before entering Dadi's room. A look at Dadi and Riddhima knew she was in trouble, Dadi was angry.

"Dadi please don't be angry. I can explain everything. I have a reason for whatever I did." she said softly walking towards Dadi's rocking chair.

"You better have a good reason Rhea, because I'm in no mood to listen to any crap." Dadi said sternly and she nodded.

Riddhima started from the eve of their presentations till today evening where Armaan told her his reasons, skipping her attempt at suicide, the details of their confessions and moments.

"Dadi, he didn't do anything to hurt me intentionally. We were framed. He has apologized many times now. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to hurt everyone. I never knew we would get back together and face such situation. I told Armaan too to not tell our parents anything but he did, because he doesn't want to base our relationship on lies. He came away from his home because he doesn't want Papa or his own parents to forgive him due to any pressure. He didn't contact me at all because Papa asked him to leave me and he readily accepted. Armaan doesn't want me ruin my ties with my parents for him. He said he would not marry me unless our parents agreed to it. Dadi he's not wrong or bad. The situation made him look so. He's very nice Dadi, you know it, don't you? He loves you all a lot, he will never go against you. He's told me to listen to whatever Papa says and wants from me. He can say all this but I can't, I can't stay without him. Please Dadi, forgive him. I'm sorry for hiding truth for so long, it's not his fault, I just didn't want to share it with anyone. Dadi please tell Papa to forgive him. I can't live without him. I love him. I love him so much." By the end of it she was sobbing hysterically.

Dadi caressed her head lovingly wiping her own tears. Her granddaughter had suffered so much but chose to stay mum. She knew the real reason behind this; love makes you do strange things. Finally her innocent granddaughter had found her love in the handsome charming boy, who was like her grandson to her.

"Everyone makes mistakes beta, but only the righteous and courageous will accept and amend them and ask for forgiveness of those hurt. I know Armaan from before you. I know how wonderful he is and how much he respects his elders. I am so happy you've chosen him as your partner. I approve of your choice Riddhima and will pull Sujal's ears if he doesn't forgive Armaan, okay? Now stop crying my child. I'm sure you know how your Dadi hates your tears. Now smile. I promise, I'll be by your side. But haan, Armaan has to meet me; I have to talk to him before I speak to Sujal. Will he come to meet us?" Riddhima smiled widely hearing Dadi.

"He will come Dadi, for all of you. He has missed everyone as much as you all have." She hugged Dadi mumbling thank you again and again. Exhaustion, emotional turmoil and sleep over took Riddhima and she slept in Dadi's lap in no time.

The day was coming to an end and Armaan was roaming in a mall with handful of bags from one shop to the other followed by two of his guards who were right now his chauffeurs, carrying numerous shopping bags. Armaan had wanted to go to the orphanage soon but couldn't go empty handed. He needed to buy gifts for everybody. And so he was stuck here since morning only relaxing during a lunch break. He hadn't called Riddhima deliberately, giving her time to settle down.

"This is it. Please take these and go back to the car. I'll join you in half and hour." he instructed his guards.

"Now where do I begin from? I have to get so many things for her. Hmm yeah, let's start with this shop."

"I can do this, common hurry up Armaan, if you want to see her today." he spoke to himself looking closely at the dresses in front of him.

He settled for two churidaars, two sarees, a dozen of tee shirts, blue, black and white denims to go with them and two evening gowns. And something that had caught his eyes at the first look, but this was going to stay with him till its owner came to live with him as his wife.

"Dresses, jewelry, soft toys, chocolates and roses, finally, I have it all. Here I come Basket." he mumbled making his way to the car after an hour.

To say he was nervous was an understatement. He was beyond that. Anxious, guilty, edgy and scared and much more.. He raised his shaking hand to ring the bell and quickly closed his eyes and pleaded to God to let it all go right. The turn of knob made his heart beat go even higher with anticipation. Everyone was gathered in the hall with Riddhima as the center of attention as she kept telling them about Rahul-Muskaan's wedding. Ananya Maasi had received him at the door and led to the hall.

"I'm home." he said trying to sound as cheerful as possible. Everyone turned around in shock and gasped seeing him stand there. Nobody moved, it felt like time stood still. Armaan looked at all the faces.

"I'm sorry everyone. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. Please, I'm sorry." he said falling down on his knees and let the tears he was holding back fall freely.

Riddhima couldn't see Armaan crying like this. She knew kids were shocked seeing him and so couldn't move, so she took Minnie's hand in hers and gestured to go to Armaan. Minnie stumbled a bit as she couldn't see properly due to her misty eyes but once Harsh and Thruv nodded at her, she ran and threw herself at him. Armaan smiled sadly and hugged her back with all his might, rubbing her back as she sobbed loudly. He looked at the rest of them opening an arm and they were all over him in a second. Armaan hugged and kissed everyone and apologized again. He looked around and asked for Gappu.

"Aray tum yahan ho. Chalo go out and see, there's a surprise waiting for you. Common, you can do this later." Riddhima had come in to check on Gappu, and found him studying.

"Di please. I'm busy, I don't want any disturbance now." he said in an irritated tone.

"We won't disturb you, come for a few minutes. Somebody is here to meet you." she said softly.

"I don't want to meet anybody."

"Not even Armaan?" she asked hopefully but was met with a negative answer. Riddhima understood he was upset with Armaan for leaving them she tried to explain that he was out of country due to his business but he did miss everyone and that's why he sent gifts for everyone on all occasions.

"Aur kitna jhoot bolo gi ap un ke liye Di?" he asked softly.

"Tum bhi na Gappu, is pea size brain pe zor daalna bund karo aur chalo, wo wait kar raha hai tumhara." she said holding his arm.

"Tou karne do wait. I will not meet him. Jab aap ko un ki zaroorat thi tab wo kahan they? Kyun nahin aye they? Mujhe sab pata hai, un ki wajah se ap ka accident hua tha beach pe or yeh bhi pata hai unho ne ap se larayi ki thi or ap ko chor ke chaley gaye they." Riddhima was shocked to hear Gappu.

"Aisay nahin baat kartey Gappu. Yeh sab bakwaas tum se kisne kahi? Aisa kuch nahin hai."

"I don't want to meet him or talk to him. He is a liar. He said he loves us, he said he loves you but he left all of us. I don't love him anymore." he spoke with tears.

"Meri taraf dekh ke kaho that you haven't waited for him to return, that you aren't stopping yourself from running to him. Galti kis se nahin hoti Gappu, hum sab se hoti hai. Armaan se bhi hui, per ab wo apni galti maan raha hai and he's apologizing. So shouldn't we forgive him and give him another chance? Yaad karo Gappu, who's been by your side all the years before we met? Who has helped you with every big and small problem? Who has tolerated all the tantrums you threw? Aj tum us ki aik galti maaf nahin kar sakte, itne baday ho gaye ho?" she asked.

"Bohat pyaar karti ho na ap Armaan bhaiyya se?" he said wiping her tears.

"Bohat zyada. Tum mujhse pyaar kartey ho?" she asked.

"Bohat, bohat zyada." Gappu said instantly.

"Gappu wo bohat guilty hai, us ne bhi sab ko utna hi miss kiya hia jitna tum sab ne. He hasn't made any new friend in all this time. Ghar pe bhi us se koi baat nahin kar raha. Agar tum bhi nahin karo gay to wo toot jaye ga. Please let the past go, us se mil lo, for your Di?"

"Okay, just for you. Per main kuch dair un se khafa rahoon ga, unhe mujhe manana hoga." Riddhima chuckled on his condition and agreed happily.

Gappu found Armaan waiting with open arms and he couldn't stop himself from running upto him.

"Okay guys, I think itna rona dhona is enough for today. Ab it's time to celebrate." Armaan spoke. Dadi had gone for a doctor's appointment and Riddhima had taken upon herself to not let out any of her discussion with Dadi, making Armaan worried. Armaan tried to pull her out for few moments but the kids were glued to her.

"Yeh kya ho raha hai? Ap isharon mein kya baat kar rahey ho?" Gappu asked looking between Armaan and Riddhima.

"Tumhe kya hum jo bhi karien. Meri Basket, meri marzi."

"Ap ki Basket? Matlab ap ne Di ko bol diya?" Gappu asked surprised.

"Yeah I told your Di that I love her and I proposed her for marriage too."

"Wow, what did you reply Di?" kids turned excitedly towards a blushing Riddhima.

"Haan bola or kya, Armaan Mallik ke charm se koi bach paya hai aj tak." he chuckled dodging a cushion thrown by Riddhima.

"Wow, hamein pictures dekhni hain. Dikhao na Bhaiyya." kids said.

"We don't have any pictures." Armaan looked at Riddhima as she said this.

Dadi had returned and called Armaan in her room, where Riddhima wasn't allowed.

"To aa gayi hum sab ki yaad?" Dadi asked.

"Aisa nahin hai Dadi. Ap sab ko main kabhi bhool nahin sakta, bus mujhse galti ho gayi. Main itne din is liye nahin aya kyunki yahan ki har cheez mujhe Bas.. Riddhima ki yaad dilati. Please mujhe maaf kar dijye. Maine ap sab ka dil dukhaya hai." he sat down near her feet with his head bowed down. Dadi kissed his forehead as he cried silently. They discussed the matter for a while till dinner was laid.

The dinner was nothing short of a celebration. Armaan had ordered food from outside and brought in a huge cake to celebrate the reunion. Everyone cheered loudly as they cut the cake together. Kids had opened their gifts enthusiastically and jumped up and down seeing their favorite things. Armaan side hugged Riddhima and smiled a deep dimpled smile seeing kids so happy which she returned graciously.

"Prem please now don't start on it again. I'm not in a mood to discuss anything." Sujal said looking out of his large office window.

"But Papa not talking is not the solution. We need to talk, to discuss things. We can't ignore them." Prem tried to get him to talk.

"What's there to discuss when I already know all of you are at her side?" Sujal asked frowning.

"Papa please listen to me once. I want to tell you my point of view, later it's you who'll make the decision." he took Sujal's hand and led him to the sofa in the office.

"Papa, I know what Rhea did was wrong. She shouldn't have left to India without informing anyone of us. But please understand her feelings too. She loves Armaan a lot and has already lost him once, that fear is instilled in her heart. She had been asking me about him as she couldn't locate him but I didn't tell because Armaan had said not to. After over hearing Mama's conversation, she was panicked. Papa she wasn't being disrespectful towards you, she just wanted to look out for her love. She knows it well that Armaan tortures himself physically whenever he hurts her. They both love each other a lot. If one is hurt the other bleeds. Papa Armaan is a very nice guy. We won't be able to get somebody as loving as him for our Princess."

"Prem is absolutely right Papa." Sujal looked towards the door and found Rahul and Kashish standing there.

"Oh so you're also at her side. Good, go on. Where's Musakaan?" Sujal spoke irritatedly.

"It's not taking sides, we're standing with the right. And you can be happy, Muskaan's with you in this." Rahul replied pulling a chair for Kashish.

"Where's my gift?" Riddhima whispered with a pout as she saw Armaan come out after giving Dadi and Maasi their gifts.

"Gift chahye meri Baby ko? Main hoon na tumhara gift." he said lovingly putting his weight on her as he put

wrapped his arms around her neck.

"Very funny, not. Tum sab ke liye chocolates laye mere liye nahin laye, main tum se baat nahin karoon gi. Jao, go back to your home." she said trying to take off his arms.

"Aww chocolates chahyein. Tou Gappu ke saath share kar lena, warna wo mota puri kha lega." he said pulling her closer.

"Main kyun share karoon? I don't share my things. Armaan ye kya kar rahey ho, koi dekh lei ga." Armaan lifted her in his arms and spoke climbing the stairs:

"Tou dekhne do. Maine permission le li hai, I'll leave after you sleep."

"I'm not a baby, I can sleep myself. Leave me. I can walk." she moved her legs in air.

Armaan put Riddhima down in her room. She looked at her bed with confusion seeing it covered in shopping bags. Armaan shrugged when she turned towards him. She jumped and hugged Armaan finding chocolates in a bag making him laugh. Riddhima pulled him along with her on the bed and looked through each thing.

"Armaan, why did you waste so much money? Main to mazaak kar rahi thi."

"Did you just say waste money? Excuse me, this is not wasting. Yeh to kuch nahin hai, you deserve so much more than this. Is liye mera jitna dil chahe ga main utna spend karoon ga apni Jaan per. Basket, mere paas jo kuch bhi hai wo sab tumhare liye hai." he said hitting her forehead lightly with his own. Armaan smiled contently seeing her gush over the dresses but frowned when she hugged the teddy bear close to her and it said 'I love you'.

"Issey mujhe do. I will kill him no break him." he said pulling the bear out of Riddhima's hands and twisting its neck.

"What are you doing Armaan? It'll get spoiled. Leave it."

"Is ki himmat kaise hui meri Basket ko I love you bolne ki." Riddhima hit her forehead on his reply.

"Choro, choro issey. Tum aik bear se jealous ho rahey ho? You only brought it, didn't you?"

"Haan hoon jealous because no one can say 'i love you' to you except me. Mujhe thori pata tha yeh bolta bhi hai. Shakal se kitna cute hai per harkatien dekho zara, saala." she giggled hearing him speak with a pout and frown.

"Aur tum choro issey, choro. Koi zarurat nahin hai itna hug karne ki." Riddhima doubled in laughter seeing him behave like a 5 year old kid. They quickly moved apart as they heard footsteps nearing.

"Riddhi, Armaan. Beta wo main batane aayi thi, all roads connecting to this area are blocked for the night, koi bara accident hua hai kareeb mein. Armaan tu baraber walay room mein ruk ja, go back tomorrow." Dadi said from the entrance.

"Dadi yeh dekhye Armaan mere liye kya laya hai." Riddhima pulled her in and showed her all the things. Dadi smiled lovingly at both her kids to see them so happy together.



"I understand what you're thinking and feeling. You don't have to tell me Sujal." Kashish said hugging him from behind.

"I know you're scared of letting her go, scared that she'll get hurt. But sujal hurt tou woh abhi ho rahi hai, tumhari narazgi ki wajah se."

"When did I say I'm angry with her?" he asked holding her hands.

"You're not angry with her but you are with Armaan. Pata Maa se abhi thori dair pehle baat hui, Armaan aya hai wahan. Sujal please relax." She soothed his tight muscles.

"Pata hai Maa kya keh rahin thin? She said that Riddhima had asked Armaan not to tell about their past to anybody, but he still did. He has told Maa, that he won't marry her unless we all agree for it. He doesn't want her to ruin her ties with us, he respects you a lot. Tumhein yaad hai how my parents were against us, how painful that period was for both of us? Do you want the same for your Princess?"

"Kabhi nahin Kashish. Per Armaan ne usey bohat hurt kia hai. Main kaise ussey bhool jaon?"

"Armaan ne jissey hurt kia hai us ne maaf kar dia Sujal. Tum kyun nahin samajh rahey? Riddhima us se mohabbat karti hai, they complete each other. Galti hui thi Armaan se or ab wo us ke liye mafi maang raha hai na, or kya karey?"

"She's very naive; she doesn't know how to take decisions."

"Sujal hamare liye wo hamesha bachi rahey gi. Per wo ab bari ho gayi, a beautiful young woman, just like how you dreamt of her to be. It's time we let her go with her Prince. I know you like Armaan a lot, don't you?" she turned him to face her.

"Sujal please think about it. I'm sure whatever you decide it'll be best for our daughter." she left him thinking in his study.



"So looks like God also wants us to be together." Armaan said locking the door. Both of them cleared the bed and climbed in it with Riddhima sitting between Armaan's legs and his hands wrapped around her.

"Armaan, thank you so much for all these things." she said cupping his cheek on her shoulder.

"Bolne se kaam nahin chaley ga. I want a return gift." he said rubbing his cheeks with hers.

"Of course, but you'll have to wait for a few days because I'll get it when I go to the mall. What should I give you as return gifts; you've got me so many things?"

"No need to go anywhere. No need to bring anything. Just kiss me." he whispered turning her face towards him, bringing it closer and stopped as their noses touched. Both closed their eyes as Riddhima leaned in and placed her lips on his. They remained like that for a few moments before she moved her lips softly against his. Armaan turned her in his hold taking over the kiss. He kissed her slowly but deeply pulling her on him as he lied down on bed. Riddhima hid her face in his neck inhaling large amounts of oxygen as they came up for air. Armaan rolled them over and lifted himself on his elbows gazing at her flushed face intently. He smiled fondly as she placed her palm over his eyes to break his gaze. He kissed her palm and lied down facing her, both looking at each other silently.

"I love you Armaan." she said entwining their fingers and moving closer to him.

"Love you too Jaan." he replied pulling her into his chest and drifting off to sleep.

 Nimra

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