Saturday, 10 October 2020

Part 25 : In My Heart

The room was immersed in darkness except for the sunrays filtering through the gaps in blinds. The silk drapes covering them were pulled away. Riddhima groaned due to the sudden brightness and pushed her face in to her bunny.

"Muski, not now. I'm sleepy."

She felt the duvet being lifted and pooled on her waist. The bed dipped as someone climbed on the bed and wrapped an arm around her. She moved back till her back was pressed against the firm chest, instantly recognizing the touch.

"Good Morning Jaan." Armaan whispered pressing his cheek against her head and kissing it.



"Morning Baby." Riddhima sighed contently and placed her hand above his on her stomach. Armaan removed her hair and nuzzled her neck, inhaling her smell. "Wake up, Basket." He said pressing light kisses as she had dozed off again as they lay comfortably in each other's arms. She hummed and turned around in his hold. Slowly she opened her eyes to see two ocean blue orbs looking down at her. Her heart skipped a beat seeing the amount of adoration and love in his eyes. She realized this was how she wanted to wake up every day for the rest of her life; to see Armaan next to her.

"Very soon." Armaan said with a wink breaking Riddhima out of her staring session. She turned deep red realizing she had spoken her thoughts loudly and he chuckled kissing her cheeks.

"What are you doing here so early?" She asked removing the hair from his forehead gingerly.

"I've come to take you out. Now hurry up." He moved out of the bed pecking her lips once.

"Where are we going? At least tell me that so I can wear clothes accordingly." She said slipping on her fluffy pink slippers. Riddhima looked where Armaan pointed with his eyes and gasped. A beautiful bouquet of white roses lay on top of a white gift box. A dimpled smile graced Armaan's face as Riddhima ran up to him and pecked his cheek.

~~~~

Armaan stared at Riddhima desirously while she looked around the diner. They were sitting on one of the tables in the open, waiting for their breakfast. Riddhima looked extremely pretty in the turquoise off shoulder gown Armaan had gifted her. She had her hair in a high pony tail and a subtle touch of make-up to just enhance her features.

"Armaan, why did you suddenly decide to take me out today?" She asked turning to him.

"Can I not take my wife out without a reason?" He questioned back, moving the fringe of hair from his forehead. Riddhima looked at him with a raised eyebrow which he imitated. Their banter was stopped as the waitress brought their orders.

The time flew as they sat chatting about anything and everything they remembered about their time together with refills of their favorite coffee. A call from Anurag interrupted them. He wanted them to drop off wedding cards personally to a few acquaintances. Armaan declined and cut the call but pouted when Riddhima forced him to agree.

~~~~

Armaan slid his arm around Riddhima's waist and pulled her closer as they stepped in to the office building. The employees stood up to greet the couple and congratulated them. Anurag was happy to see Riddhima at his office.

"So Rhea will you be joining the Malliks or continue working with your father?" A client who was already acquainted with her asked.

"We haven't decided anything in regards to this as yet Mr. Brown." Armaan deflected the question.

"Here take these cards; these are from both of our sides. The addresses are written on this yellow note. Thank you beta." Anurag said side hugging Riddhima.

"Why are you thanking her, when I am going to do all the driving?" Armaan asked.

"It's because she brought you here. Now go."

"Ab aa hi gaya hoon tou files sign kar deta hoon. It won't take long, come." Both of them entered Armaan's cabin. Riddhima hesitated as Armaan forced her to sit on his chair but relented as he pulled another next to her. His PA came in with the files and he got busy with it. Riddhima leaned back in the chair and thought about her decision which she had wanted to share with him. But somehow they always get carried away with their talks and Armaan's naughtiness.

"Chalien?" She was so involved in her thoughts that she didn't notice the PA leaving the office nor did she hear Armaan.

"Oyye kya hua?" He asked caressing her cheek softly.

"Armaan, mujhe tumse kuch baat karni thi. Har baar kuch na kuch ho jata hai or yeh baat reh jati hai." She explained wringing her hands nervously as she wasn't sure of Armaan's reaction.

"Koi problem hai?" He asked holding her hands and threading his fingers through hers noticing her nervousness.

"Nahin. Actually tum se kuch poochna tha. Main na.. Armaan dekho tum naraz mat hona. If you don't agree with me, it's okay. Okay?" Armaan just nodded.

"I was thinking that if I could join your office after the wedding? I.."

"Basket.. You're saying this because that man asked you. You don't have to decide or think about all this right now, okay? You've.."

"No Armaan, I'm not. I wanted to ask you this since I returned, I've been thinking about it."

"Mhmm.. What have you been thinking? Do you want to join us?" Riddhima nodded immediately.

"Dekho Basket, koi pressure nahin hai. You can continue working with Rahul and I'm sure Muski bhi wahan join karne wali hogi."

"I know all this. Will you have any problem if I join here?" She asked softly.

"No. Not at all. Why would I? In fact main tou bohat khush honga if you decide to work with me."

"Really?" She asked with a big smile.

"Of course. I'll be your Boss and.."

"Armaan agar tumne gussa kia tou main kaam nahin karoon gi." She cut him in the middle and folded her arms on her chest making him chuckle.

"Okay, I'll keep that in mind. But think how nice it would be to work together, one office, one cabin, one desk, one chair and both of us." He whispered leaning towards her and burst out laughing as she gasped.

"Besharam. I am not going to share a cabin with you. Tum paas hogay to koi kaam nahin ho sakta." She hit his arm rubbing her crimson cheek with the other hand.

"I'm sorry but you'll have to share the cabin with me kyunki agar tum duur hogi tou mujhse kaam nahin hoga." He whispered cupping her face.

"Armaan, dekho.." Riddhima's retort died on her lips as he kissed her urgently. He pulled away and leaned his forehead against hers breathing deeply.

"Let's leave before I decide against it." Armaan spoke huskily, his voice still carrying the effect of the kiss. Riddhima sat there still, reeling from the passionate kiss, not noticing Armaan had reached the door. He groaned as she touched her red swollen lips in a trance.

"Basket." She looked in to his glazed blue eyes as he called her loudly and motioned to leave. He walked in front of her through the corridor not trusting him with her.

~~~~

Armaan moved his jaw comically as they sat in the car after dropping the last wedding invitation. It had taken them good four hours to get over with leaving them only a little time for lunch.

"I'm going to make my PA speak on my behalf on the wedding day. Seriously, my jaw and cheeks hurt from all the smiling and talking." Riddhima laughed bringing a smile to his lips.

"Ab dard nahin ho raha?" She asked putting on the belt to which he shook his head and started the car.

"I'll pick you up at 8 pm sharp. So be ready." Armaan said stopping the car in the Garewal mansion's porch. He had come there to drop Riddhima.

"There's a bag in your closet with the dress and accessories. Now quit with the thinking and go." Armaan said pushing her towards the door.

~~~~

Riddhima's breath was taken away as she stepped out of the car. A white gazebo stood tall in the middle of lush green against the backdrop of flowing waterfall. White linen drapes danced on the tunes of wind and lanterns hanging on each corner cast a beautiful glow. She glanced at Armaan to praise his efforts but couldn't manage to as his gorgeous eyes held her captive. Time stood still for them as their eyes conversed in a language known only to their hearts. Dressed in a turquoise sari with black sequenced border and black suit; both of them made a handsome couple.

"What do you want to do now?" Armaan asked wiping his hands after keeping the leftover food in the picnic basket. He smiled brightly as Riddhima forwarded her hand.

"Dance with me." He slipped his hand in hers gladly and led her to the empty corner. The duo danced on the various romantic numbers playing on the mobile. After a while when Armaan felt Riddhima getting tired, he asked her to step on to his feet as he swayed them softly on the music.

Riddhima threaded her fingers slowly through Armaan's silky locks as he lay with his head in her lap after they savored the delicious dinner. The couple talked a bit but then fell in to a comfortable silence; it was as if words weren't required for them to communicate. Armaan had dozed off after sometime as Riddhima continued to massage his head and shoulders. Riddhima shifted his head on the cushion and stood up closing her ringing alarm. She padded barefoot to the car carefully and opened the back door to retrieve a paper bag from underneath the seat. She took out the things and arranged them on the rug.

"Wake up Baby." She whispered in his ear softly.

"Sorry main so gaya." Armaan said rubbing his eyes.

"Happy Birthday Armaan." Riddhima said throwing her arms around his neck. Armaan's face lit up with a radiant smile.

"You remembered." He mumbled wrapping his arms around her.

"How can I ever forget this day?"

"Thank you." He kissed her temple. His eyes widened as he saw a small chocolate cake with a lit candle in front of him.

"Where did you get this from? Did you make this?"

"Of course I made it. Now let's cut the cake." She handed him the knife.

"Wait a moment." He said getting to his feet. He shuffled things in the basket and came back with a platter containing chocolate mousse.

"Happy first meet anniversary Jaan. Remember we met today for the first time too." He spoke seeing her curious gaze. Riddhima nodded and he pulled her in to his embrace again.

Armaan placed a rectangular box in Riddhima's palm as she leaned against his chest after eating the desserts and talking to their families. She quirked an eyebrow in question and opened it. She gasped seeing a white gold bracelet in it. Armaan took it out and fastened it on her wrist. Riddhima looked closely at the bracelet and found two charms dangling.

"Your melodious laugh had captivated me even before I saw you. This note is to let you know that your laughter is music to my ears. Basketball is because it gave us a chance to interact and brought us closer." He explained touching the small charms. Riddhima's eyes moistened at the thought he had put in for her gift. She turned in his hold and kissed his cheeks.

"Armaan, I don't know what to get for you. Will you help me with it?"

"Just be mine." He replied stroking her lower lip sensually.

"Always yours." Riddhima whispered against his lips. Their lips met in a slow and sweet kiss. Both of them poured their love in the kiss as their lips moved in perfect harmony making them forget the world around them.

~~~~

The chocolate brown villa was finally witnessing quiet and calm as its residents retired for the night after long hours of partying. The villa was decorated beautifully for the Christmas day inside out. The Christmas party had been a great affair as the families of the gang joined the celebrations with the kids at the Shanti Nagar, Mumbai. The gang had teamed up to organize the event and they had succeeded in making it memorable for all of them. The kids had been pushed in to their rooms seeing their energy was reaching the low point. But their enthusiasm was still high due to the function next day. The gang had decided to camp in Shanti Nagar's living room for the remaining night. A medium sized Christmas tree decked up with ornaments and ribbons stood in one corner of the room. Light from the fireplace lit the room and shadows formed on the roof as the fire cackled. Everyone was seated on the floor cushions, couches and mattress lazily sipping the piping hot chocolate.

"It still seems like a dream to me." Nikki said turning the diamond ring in her finger. Abhi had proposed her during the party in front of everyone. Nikki had been shocked by the question as she had accepted he wasn't going to do it any time soon.

"I know; we were all surprised by it too. We didn't know you had this romantic side to you. Why were you hiding it from us Abhi?" Anjali asked propping up on her elbow.

"I won't say it was all me when it was partly Armaan's idea. He helped me a great deal." Abhi answered.

"Thank youuu." Nikki hugged Armaan tightly which he reciprocated with a smile.

"Armaan, I'm impressed. Riddhima you're the luckiest to have bagged him. He's a gem." Anjali said nudging Riddhima.

"I know." Riddhima whispered.

"Anjali, tumhein yeh acha laga? Dekhna main bhi next year Christmas party mein tumhien aise hi propose karoon ga." Atul said dreamily.

"Shut up Atul." Anjali scolded.

"Armaan, tu meri madad karay ga na?" Atul turned towards Armaan and started nagging him again to which he slapped his head.

"Abhi tera time bohat dooor hai mere Bhai. Pehle larki tou pata le, aagay ki baad mein sochna." Armaan said getting up from the floor cushion. He walked towards Riddhima and pulled her up too from the couch.

"Mujhe kuch kaam hai is se. Tum sab bhi apne partners ke saath jao na, kis ne roka hai?" He said as the gang protested. He held Riddhima's hand in one and picked up a pillow and blanket from the mattress in other and led her to the terrace.

"What are you doing Armaan?" Riddhima asked as he walked back to the terrace door making her sit on the swing.

"Locking it so that no one disturbs us, which I'm sure they will in a while."

"You're happy right?" Armaan asked rocking the swing from behind.

"Hmm, very happy." She knew he was asking about their upcoming wedding.

"Are you happy Armaan?" she asked softly.

"I'm happy if my Jaan is happy." He said making her sit in his lap sideways so that he could see her face.

"What happened to my baby?" He asked as he saw her pout.

"Armaan, it's been days since we came to India and you haven't taken me to the beach, you haven't shown me my wedding dress, my jewelry and the venue also. Why am I being kept in the dark?"

"Like I said earlier, Basket it's a surprise. And you can see the beach very well from your room's window, so for now enjoy the view from here." he rubbed his nose on hers.

"Armaan, I don't know any place over here, so it'll still be a surprise if you tell me the name of the venue at least. What bride doesn't know where her wedding is taking place? Socho, if I get lost on my way, how will I reach there?" Armaan's grip tightened on her waist and jaw clenched. Riddhima bit her tongue at her stupidity of reminding him of their past.

"I'm sorry." She tucked her head in the crook of his neck and wrapped her arms around him quickly as he tried to get up.

"Sholly baby." Riddhima kissed his chin.

"Don't be, it's okay. Will you do me a favor?" Armaan asked cupping her face. She nodded in return.

"We won't be able to see each other much after our sangeet tomorrow. But will you please not leave alone & let me know before you go anywhere?"

"If it makes you feel any better, I'll definitely let you know. Will you also do me a favor?" She asked tracing the small gap in his eyebrow.

"You know nothing's going to go wrong now, don't you? I want to see you smiling and not frowning. So will you stop worrying so much about my safety and enjoy these moments?"

"I will." Armaan pecked her cheeks lovingly in response.

"I still can't believe we'll be getting married in just 5 days." She smiled dreamily.

"Yeah, still so many days are left till you come to me forever. Plus from tomorrow on wards you'll always be surrounded by girls and aunties and you'll not have any time for me." He complained like a child.

"Don't be silly. You can always call me whenever you want. Time will fly by with all the last minute wedding work you have to do." Riddhima ruffled his hair.

"It doesn't fly when you're away. I'll miss you sooo much." She giggled and kissed his pouted lips.

"We should make the most of this time, shouldn't we?" Armaan asked kissing her neck. Riddhima hummed in reply not being able to speak due to the sweet pleasure his addicting kisses and touches brought her.

 Nimra

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