Sunday, 11 October 2020

Part 26 : In My Heart

Soft music and lights emanated from the venue of Armaan Riddhima's sangeet function. Business men, few known celebrities and politicians in addition to family friends were amongst the invited. Sujal and Anurag stood at the entrance to welcome the guests while Prerna and Kashish looked after the seating arrangements and caterers. The soon to be wedded couple stood at a raised wooden step opposite the performing stage receiving blessings and wishes from the guests. Their entry had left the audience stunned. They looked heavenly descending from the curved white stairs filled with smoke and fairy lights lighting the path they walked on up to the stage. Armaan was dressed in a dove grey sherwani with zardosi work in silver, paired with a white button down pleated kurta and tight pajama. Riddhima was decked up in a dove grey lehenga accented with lavender and magenta. Intricate embellishments adorned the entire lehenga and purple border with silver motifs enhanced the hem. Her hair was held in a stylish bejeweled bun with loose tendrils framing her face. Light reflected off the embellishments giving them a sparkling effect.


The lights were dimmed when the artists were ready for their performances. A translucent diamond shaped stage over an in built pool glowed due to the LED lights placed under water. Rahul and Muskaan welcomed everyone to the function and requested them to settle down so that the function could proceed. There were few live performances by local bands and artists. But the real fun began when the kids from the orphanage danced to the latest fast tunes. Everyone applauded their enthusiasm and skills with which they performed, especially on 'Dhinka chika' and 'Radha'.
The venue fell silent when the gang presented a few skits on Armaan Riddhima's love life.

"'Put me down Armaan. Tum hamesha aisa karte ho, loser. I know what you're doing, so don't act smart.'

'Main kya kar raha hoon?'

'Tum cheating kar rahay ho because you're losing and all of them are helping you this time.'

'Oh really Bas.. Riddhima. Look at the scores properly. Its you who's losing baby.'" Armaan gazed at Riddhima lovingly as Nikki and Abhi enacted a scene from basketball court.

"'Why is he still here?'

'He'll leave in a while. Why is there any problem?'

'Why is he here when all your friends were invited only for the wedding?'

'He's a close friend of mine.'

'So why is he getting close to Riddhima?'" Riddhima giggled along with others as Muski and Rahul played the part where Armaan was jealous. Later the gang also performed on various numbers.

There were loud whistles and claps as all the family members were dragged one by one to dance. The atmosphere turned emotional as Kashish sang 'Yeh betian tou babul ki raniyan hain', while a slideshow of Riddhima's pictures from birth up till today morning played on the projector. Armaan looked on a daze at all her pictures, enjoying seeing her in all the phases of her life, but his head snapped towards Riddhima as he heard her sniffle softly. She had bent her head down and was biting on her lower lip to stop her sobs. He quickly grasped her hand and rubbed circles on it. Sujal opened his arms and she ran into them on the stage. The whole Garewal family hugged her and they cried tears of sadness as she would leave their home soon and tears of joys as she would begin her life anew. Armaan's heart jumped to his throat seeing Riddhima cry. He inhaled deeply before walking backstage nodding at Abhi.

Everyone looked around as the loud music forced them to move apart.

'Balika tumhare sapno ko Rajkumar aa raha hai.

Varmala, baraat, doli saja ke Dulha chaa raha haii.

Shubha mangla saavdhaan.' Riddhima giggled as Armaan raised the veil of flowers from his face and winked at her singing,

'Heeriye sehra bandh ke main tou aya re.

Doli, baraat bhi saath mein main tou laya re.

Ab tou na hota hai ek roz intezaar, Soni aj nahin tou kal hai tujh ko tou bus meri honi reee.

Tenu leke main jaawa ga, dil de ke main jaawa ga.'

She walked along with others to get down the stage but Armaan caught her arm and shook his head not letting her go. The lights were turned off completely leaving the venue in darkness. Riddhima was shocked when he pulled her towards him, making her crash into his chest. She gasped and struggled against him when he kissed her tears away but it only made him hold her even tighter.

The next moment white light shone through the water and thick smoke filled the air, making it look as if they were standing on clouds.

'Ek din ap yoon hum ko mil jayein ge,phool hi phool rahon mein khil jayein ge,

maine socha na tha.' Armaan pressed his eyes at her pleadingly to sing along and she complied with a small smile.

They danced to this romantic song, moving across the lit platform sensually. The world blurred into oblivion as they sang each line from heart holding each other's gaze. Their bubble burst as the crowd hooted and cheered at their beautiful performance. Dadi came up and hugged both of them.

"I love you." Armaan mumbled kissing her temple as they sat back on their seats.

Soon the dinner was served. The guests appreciated the food a lot.

"Here, this is pink tea. Drink it, you'll feel better." Riddhima glared at Armaan as he brought her a cup of tea.

"Really Armaan? Are you gone crazy or something? You've been forcing me to drink all types of teas since morning. Green, black, white, herbal and now pink." She scrunched her nose in irritation.

"Yeah so? I want you to recover quickly. This is really tasty. Aik sip leke to dekho." He said bringing the cup to her mouth.

"I'm not sick. It's just a little harmless cold. Otherwise I'm perfectly fine, understand?" Riddhima said gulping the warm liquid and licking her lips as she liked the taste.

"Good, I want it to stay that way. Now finish this." Armaan made her drink again.

"Are you worried I won't be able to make it to the altar?"

"No, I know you would. I'm scared about getting stuck here and missing my honeymoon though. I don't want to spend it here amongst these crazy people who don't even let me see you in peace let alone touch you." He admitted cutely.

Riddhima's eyes widened and she looked around quickly to see if anyone heard their conversation.

"Besharam." she hit his arm.

"What, I haven't done anything yet and you're calling me besharam? I didn't even get a chance to tell you properly how gorgeous you're looking tonight." He said rubbing his cheek on hers but pulled back abruptly as Atul and Nikki approached them. Armaan gave Riddhima a 'i told you so' look and handed Atul the empty cup and saucer.

"Waisey Rhea, tum terrace pe akele poori raat kya kar rahi thin?" Nikki asked taking a spoonful of the delicious trifle.

"Haan Basket, tum akele terrace pe kya kar rahi thin?" Armaan asked suddenly forgetting his grumpy mood. Riddhima narrowed her eyes at him and gave him a disapproving look before answering.

"I wanted to enjoy the cool breeze for a while, pata hi nahin chala kab aanhk lag gayi. Aray Atul tumhe Di bula rahi hai, dekho." She said cutting Atul from questioning her again and twisted her nose before turning away.

"Gussa ho?" Armaan whispered in her ear after Nikki left. Riddhima just took a step away from him silently.

"Main kya karta tumhi batao? They were knocking on the door. I couldn't take you out."

"So you left me and hid behind the plants. Very nice move."

"Basket, if they had found out that we were there together, they would have teased relentlessly and I didn't think you wanted to go through it willingly. Do you want me to tell them the truth now?" He asked closing the distance between them.

"Ye sab na tumhari galti hai. Why did you drag me up there?"

"I don't remember using any force to stop you. Why didn't you leave? As far as I remember you enjoyed last night just as much as I did." He said nipping her ear lobe.

"Armaan." Riddhima said in a shaky voice. He shook his head and licked the same spot.

"Please koi dekh lega." She placed her hand over his on her stomach.

"Phir mere saath chalo." She didn't get any time to react as Armaan pulled her away.

"Armaan ye tum kya kar rahay ho. Dekho koi aa jaye ga tou kya sochay ga?" Riddhima asked as he locked the dressing room from inside.

"Ssshh." He whispered trapping her between himself and the wall. Riddhima lowered her eyes as his heated gaze traced her features. Armaan placed soft kisses all over her face. There was a knock on the door just as he placed his lips over hers. Riddhima pushed him away quickly and corrected her duppatta. He shut his eyes tightly in frustration and rubbed his eye brow as the knocks became loud and frequent.

"Rhea tum kya kar rahi thi, kitni dair se knock kar raha hoon? Aray Armaan tum bhi ho yahan." Atul said as Riddhima unlocked the door.

"Tumhe kya lagta hai Champ? Waisey tum yahan kya kar rahay ho. Yeh to ladies dressing room hai na?" Armaan asked standing in front of him.

"Pata hai mujhe. I only came to take Anjali's purse. Per tum yahan kya kar rahay ho? Wo bhi is ke saath?" Atul questioned with a raised brow.

"Atul, tumhe late ho raha hai. Di tumhara wait kar rahi hogi."

"Aray haan, baad mein baat karte hain Armaan. Thanks Rhea."

"Not bad Basket. You've learned how to tackle the gang very quickly. I'm impressed." Armaan said side hugging her as Atul rushed out.

"I've learned from the best." He chuckled and pecked her lips at her response.

**********

A blue Honda civic screeched to a halt before a check post. The two passengers looked around to make sure they were at the right location.

"Nikki, tumhe nahin lagta hum galat jagah aa gaye hain? Pehle tou yahan koi security nahin thi." Atul asked timidly.

"Haan per ghar tou isi area mein hai.

Dekho GPS pe yehi route hai. We have to go in further... Maybe." Nikki said hitting her device on the dash board as it went blank.

"Looks like a politician's house to me warna why would they place so many guards?" Atul said narrowing his eyes to count the guards.

"Hmm. Abhi ko bola tha hamein bhi pick kar le but nahin why would he? Atul jao ja kar poocho kisi guard se Garewal house yahin hai ya nahi. Ye stupid device ka charger nahin hai mere paas."

"Main. Bilkul nahin. Tum jao." The duo kept bickering till Nikki's phone rang.

"Oyye tum dono dus minute se car mein kya kar rahay ho? Function attend nahin karna kya?" Armaan asked from the other side.

"Karna hai na agar ghar mil jaye. Aik minute, how did you know we're in the car? Armaan, you are not allowed to meet Rhea, remember?" Nikki said quickly turning back to see where he was.

"I know. The guards informed me. Shukar karo I remembered your car number warna abhi tum jail mein hoti."

"Guards? Oh so you've placed this security over here? Of course, main bhi kitni pagal hoon. Aise kaam to sirf tum kar sakte ho." Nikki said sarcastically and starting her car again.

"Thanks for the compliment. Do you want to go in or stay here? Good. Wait. Yes let them in, they're family. Thanks. Sun Niks, don't forget to do what I asked you to. Bye." Armaan disconnected the call after speaking.

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

It was a warm afternoon as the sun was shining brightly but the cool breeze balanced its heat and provided some relief. The Garewal garden was decorated and set up to hold Riddhima's haldi function. It was a small gathering as Armaan had requested to keep this a low key affair. A bronze garden swing decorated with orange and yellow flowers stood on the well-trimmed grass as a stage in one corner. A traditional wood craft table with marble top was placed in front of it. Water cascaded down the rocks and gathered at the bottom in the beautiful garden fountain opposite the swing. A long table was set up near it for refreshments and chairs were scattered around.

Vibrant shades of orange flashed across the garden as the girls rushed around in gowns placing the homemade ubtan and oil in silver bowls on the table. The men were seated in the living room enjoying the ongoing series of league cricket with warm snacks while the ladies gathered in the garden. The girls escorted Riddhima outside. Nikki placed a device on the table hidden from everyone's view by the flower arrangement. She looked around with a frown for a socket and found none. Nikki went back inside and dragged Arjun out. He rolled his eyes when she told him what to do.

"Seriously I thought he was staying away from the function just as he was told. But obviously yeh Armaan hai, how can he miss on a chance to look at his Basket. Charger ko is connection mein plug karo." Arjun said opening a multiple socket plug adapter. Riddhima quirked eyebrows seeing him fidget with something bent over the table.

"You look very pretty Bhabhi." He kissed her head and walked back inside.

Armaan's heart leaped into an overdrive on the sight in front of him. Riddhima sat in a baby yellow gown with beaded sweetheart neckline. Her hair was tied in a fishtail braid with small pearls over her left shoulder. A white wild flowers headband, charm bracelet and engagement ring were the only accessories she had on. Riddhima looked pure and innocent just like an angel.

"My angel." Armaan whispered before clicking the call button on his mobile.

The ceremony began with Dadi putting ubtan on Riddhima's feet followed by Kashish, Prerna and rest of the ladies. Prem walked in with a silly grin holding a bouquet of crme and peach roses and a small wooden box. Riddhima's face lit up seeing the flowers. She had been waiting for them. It had now become a routine to receive a different bouquet daily from her love. Riddhima chuckled seeing the girls' shocked expressions when she pushed the box behind her. They gave her the best puppy eyes but she just shook her head.

"Let her be girls. It's hers to see first. She'll show you later." Prerna said walking over to the group hunched over Riddhima. She caressed her hair lovingly and dragged the girls to attend the guests.

Riddhima gasped softly on opening the lid of the wooden box. An angel charm of white gold was placed on top of black silk and a note stuck beneath it.

"An angel for MY Angel."

She picked it up carefully and attached it to her bracelet also given by Armaan.

Riddhima tapped on her mobile and kissed the screen.

The guys walked out to join the girls as soon as the guests and elders left. Abhi, Atul and Arjun applied a little ubtan on Riddhima's hands. Rahul and Prem both settled on each side of her on the swing and kissed her temples. They dipped their hands in the bowl and winked at each other before smearing lots of it on her cheeks. Riddhima squealed and jumped up but they held her back rubbing it all over her face and neck as she squirmed. Soon others joined in too and threw ubtan at each other running around the garden. Kashish pushed them all to washrooms to clean up before the dinner and called in help to clear all the mess.

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

Riddhima took a long hot shower to remove all the yellow sticky substance from her face, shoulders, back, arms, legs and hair which her family had so lovingly coated her with. She walked out of the washroom towel drying her hair in white floral nightwear reaching her mid-thigh.
"Oyye hoyye Soniyo." Her head snapped up as she heard Armaan's voice. She frowned on not being able to see him anywhere. She stood confused finding his picture on her dressing table, trying to comprehend how a picture could speak. This was until he grinned and winked at her that she realized it was his tab and he was online.

"Do you wear that to bed daily?" She followed his gaze down the length of her body and shrieked running away from the screen. Armaan laughed loudly at her delayed reaction. Riddhima pulled on the belt of her white satin robe tightly as Armaan looked her up and down again. She cleared her throat to gain his attention.

"Did you like your gift?" He asked as she sat on the dressing stool.

"Yes, I did. It's beautiful. Thank you Armaan." She smiled brightly.

"You don't need to say thanks again."

"But I didn't say it before." She spoke confused.

"You did when you kissed your phone and whispered I love you." Her eyes squinted in thought and then widened on understanding.

"You saw the whole ceremony on this, didn't you? Dadi told you not to come here and.." Armaan cut her in the middle.

"She told me not to come and I didn't. I just saw it." He gave her a sheepish grin while she glared at him.

"It was a girl's function and you aren't supposed to see me till the wedding."

"But I wanted to see you. I miss you so much." He whined.

"It's not like you haven't seen me for ages, we met just last night Armaan." Riddhima replied.

"Oh yeah I forgot. Don't know what I was thinking doing this. I'm sorry for disturbing you."

"Armaan that's not what I meant."

"I understand. Good night."

"Armaan listen to me.." She leaned her head on the table cursing her for being rude to him when he was being nothing less than a sweetheart. Riddhima decided to skip the dinner as Armaan wouldn't be joining them and hid beneath the plush duvet, seeking its warmth, feeling bad for spoiling Armaan's mood. She dozed off texting, calling and waiting for any of them to be returned by him but with no such luck.
..................
Riddhima rolled on to her stomach pulling the fluffy comforter over her head as she shivered lightly. She pushed the covers down slightly and peeked outside through the open window. The sun was hidden behind the soft clouds and cold breeze blew making the temperature drop a few notch. Riddhima rubbed her eyes and stretched. She felt fresh after having slept well throughout the night. She reached for her mobile sitting up leaned against the head board. Her heart dipped on noticing no message or call from Armaan.

"He's still upset with me. Hona bhi chachye. Maine baat hi aise ki thi. Now what will I do? He isn't picking up my calls and we aren't allowed to meet. Should I ask Muski? Nahin, nahin. It's my problem and I will handle it, per kaise?" Riddhima mumbled to herself staring at the ceiling.

"Idea.Yes, this should do it." Her eyes widened in excitement as she thought of a plan. She pulled out clothes from her cupboard and rushed in the washroom to freshen up.

Riddhima saw her brothers sitting in front of the TV while her mother was setting the table as she came down downstairs. Kashish smiled and walked up to her.

"Did my Princess sleep well last night?"

"Yes mama. I'm sorry I woke up late."

"Don't be silly. Come brunch is ready; the boys were waiting for you." Kashish said taking her hand and guiding to the dining table.

"Where are Muski and Papa?" Riddhima asked as they all settled down to eat.

"She's gone to help Maa with some wedding work. Papa and Dad are busy with some office work." Rahul informed filling his plate with fries and fish fillets.

Riddhima walked out in to the garden pulling a grey sweat shirt over her head. She glanced at all the colorful flowers around her with a scissor in hand. She walked around cutting flowers from different bushes and tied them with a silver string.

"Not bad Rhea." Riddhima praised herself looking at the bunch of delicate pink and white flowers in her hand. She gave these and an envelope to her guard and requested him to drop them at Mallik Mansion.

"Namaste Dadi. How are you? We're all fine and missing you. You said you'll come and stay with me for few days, ab kya hua?" Riddhima spoke in to the phone as she received a call on land line.

"Mere paas yahan kuch kaam nikal aaye jo karna bohat zaroori thay. Per main kal zaroor aaon gi apni gurya ki mehendi mein or phir rukoon gi bhi." Dadi explained.

"Oh crap. How could I forget this? Dadi main abhi thori dair mein wahan aa rahi hoon. Ap Minnie ko bolna tayyar rahay. I have to take her for dress shopping. I had promised to buy them clothes. I.." Riddhima spoke hastily picking up her mobile and rushing towards the stairs.

"Relax beta. Sab ke dresses aa chuke hain. Armaan kal hi sab kuch de kar gaya hai. Tum pareshan mat ho." She halted abruptly bumping in to Prem. Dadi ended the call after speaking to Kashish about the arrangements for the mehendi ceremony.

"So my dear Princess, what do you have in mind for today?" Prem asked wrapping his arm around her shoulder as they sat on the sofa.

"Now that I'm free for the rest of the day, I'm thinking of spending it with my brothers." She said quirking an eye brow.

"Let me think. Hmm seems great to me. What say Rahul?" Prem asked tapping his chin.

"I'm in. It's been so long since we spent time with each other. Mama, come here." Rahul called out to Kashish. Few minutes later the Garewal family gathered in front of the TV screens with pop corns, cookies and soft drinks and squeezed in on one sofa with a fleece thrown over carelessly watching a romantic comedy film.



Prerna and Muskaan sat amidst dozens of saris, lehenga cholis, ghararas and churidar suits scattered across the living room. Each piece of cloth was different from the other in texture, color, style but had one thing common, quality. Anurag had ensured that only the best quality clothes from the best store in Mumbai were delivered at his residence.

"Maa sach mein yeh bohat ho gaya hai. Ap yeh Rhea ke liye rakh do." Muskaan said looking at the dresses spread in front of her.

"Koi bohat nahin hai. Teri shadi ho gayi hai is ka yeh matlab nahin ke hamara tum pe koi haq nahin." Prerna replied wrapping a purple sari with heavy zari work.

"I didn't mean to say that. What I'm saying is that what will I do with all of these? I already have so many. Mama has made new dresses for me too."

"Don't worry; you'll get plenty of occasions to wear all these after we return to Leeds. I want you to wear this when we throw a dinner party after Armaan Riddhima come back from their honeymoon."

"Maa please select any color except red for Rhea. She's anyway going to be wearing red and only red if Bhai gets his way."

"Like father, like son." Both mother and daughter laughed at the intense liking of color red by both Anurag and Armaan.

Anurag walked in and embraced Muskaan tightly. He kissed her forehead and sat down with them to see the dresses and join them in their discussions.

"Anu, where's Armaan? He's been out since morning." Prerna asked placing the boxes in her cupboard.

"He's gone on a lunch meeting with a business client regarding some project that he intends to begin after his return." Anurag replied wearing his white kurta.

"Anu, I want you to relieve him of his office duties till after his honeymoon. I don't want him to miss out on any fun during the initial days of his wedding. Nor do I want my bahu to suffer due to his workaholic nature."

"Be careful with what you say Maa. Yeh na ho Bhai aap ki baat ko seriously consider kar lien or wapis office join hi na karien. Aur jahan tak Rhea ki baat hai, don't worry, Bhai won't give her a chance to complain even once, kyunki wo us ko aik minute ke liye bhi akela nahin chorien ge." Muskaan said rolling in a trolley laden with snacks and tea.

"He has already spent 4 years working like a robot. Now I want him to take an off from work and enjoy this new phase of life." Prerna sat on the bed and sipped her tea while Muskaan served Anurag. The trio looked up to see a grinning Armaan standing at the entrance.

"I got it. I got the deal finalized, Maa." He waved a file in front of them.

"Congratulations son, I'm proud of you." Anurag said patting his back after reading the file.

"Armaan, now I don't want to see your face in the office until after your return from honeymoon. Am I clear?" Armaan nodded and laid his head in Prerna's lap. After finishing her sandwich Muskaan crawled on the bed and lay down between her parents. The Malliks spent some quality family time chatting and catching up with each other's life after a long time.



Anjali entered Riddhima's room and slumped on the bed immediately. She had been on her toes all morning after an emergency patient was brought in Sanjivani. The patient was a boy of around 17 years who had broken an arm and leg and hurt his forehead when he jumped from a high swing as a dare. Anjali had signed out once he was stable.

"Hey Di. When did you come?" Riddhima asked closing the washroom's door behind her.

"Hi Ri. I came few minutes back." Anjali spoke opening her eyes.

"I'm sorry Di meri wajah se ap ka work load increase ho gaya hai." Riddhima said massaging Anjie's stiff shoulders.

"Come here silly girl. Main jo bhi kar rahi hoon apni choti behan ke liye kar rahi hoon apni khushi se." Anjie pulled Riddhima in a hug on bed with her.

Both of them were chatting while enjoying their evening coffee when Anjie received Nikki's call.

"Hey Niks. Did you get off too? I'm with Rhea. Yeah I'm listening. What? Are you sure? Okay see you in a while. Don't worry; I'll make sure all goes according to our plan. Bye." Anjie kept her mobile on the nightstand and quickly stood up.

"Di, kya hua? Koi emergency hai? Are you going back to hospital?" Riddhima asked curiously.

"There's no time to waste. I'll explain while we look through your dresses." Anjie replied opening a suitcase.

"The boys have planned bachelor's party for Armaan tonight. Thank goodness Nikki ne JP or Jiggi ki baatien sun li. They've invited only the close friends to keep it a secret. I tell you these boys are clever but sometimes they forget that we are smarter than them. Ab hum unhe bataein ge what a secret party looks like. Riddhima's eyes widened on hearing this but she refused to believe.

"Di, ho sakta hai Nikki ko galti hui ho sunne mein. I mean agar aisa hota to Armaan would have told me, right?"

"Wrong. He would never tell you or any of us warna us ki last night of freedom pe restrictions lag jaein gi. Common now try these and let me see which looks best." Anjie threw a few gowns in her direction.

"Why? What are we doing?"

"We're celebrating your bachelorette."

"Di, I think you're forgetting that I'm not supposed to leave the house."

"No, I'm not. You don't worry about anything; just get ready to enjoy a night out. Go." Anjie flipped open her mobile and made calls to arrange things.



Muskaan checked the receipts in her purse once more as Rahul came to pick her up. Prerna declined to go with them as they were going to stop at other places too.

"I'm sure it won't take too long Maa. Ap bhi chalo hamare saath." Rahul talked to Prerna.

"You have no idea how long this girl takes at the beauty salon beta. Itni dair mein I'll cover other tasks here."

"Maa, I'm just going to fix the appointment for the wedding."

"There's no need. I've arranged for a beautician to do the services for all of you at home." Armaan said coming down.

"Why? Bhai, we want to go to the parlor of our choice and get ready. Please don't say no." Muski walked towards him.

"I've already paid and made all arrangements. You'll get everything done at home with complete attention. Isn't that nice?" Armaan asked.

"It's nice. But for once we want to do something according to our wishes."

"Okay, if that's what you want. Tell me the name of the parlor; I'll get the bookings done."

"Bhai, what is your problem? Why can't we go to the parlor?"

"My problem is that I don't want any unnecessary tension during my wedding. I'm not letting Basket go out. She'll get everything she wants done at home. You all can go if you want, but at your own responsibility." Armaan gulped down the remaining of his coffee.

"Sorry, I'm not ready to take any risks either. So I agree with Armaan on this." Rahul spoke getting up from the sofa. Muskaan pouted but Prerna pressed her eyes to tell her to agree too.

"Okay. Bhai do you want me pick up your orders too from the jeweler's?"

"Crap. I forgot about that. Nahin Muski main khud le loon ga after I check with the caterers." The trio left their separate ways.



Girls rushed with their make up once Muskaan and Nikki came home. They went out as quietly as possible but stopped dead on hearing a loud throat clear behind them. Girls gulped seeing Sujal standing in the doorway with his arms crossed on his chest.

"Where do you think you ladies are going?" He asked seriously. They all stuttered with replies but came out with nothing intelligent.

"You're going out without informing anyone. Didn't you think about how worried we'll get once we found you all weren't home? I didn't expect this from you." Sujal shook his head. He called for the guards and ordered them to stay near by wherever they went.

"What? When did I say you couldn't go out? I just said to go after informing." The shocked and scared expressions on girls' faces changed in to grins. They all cheered and ran up to him.

"Sujal yeh tum kya bol rahay ho? Don't you know Rhea isn't supposed to go out till her wedding day?" Kashish asked joining them on the steps.

"Kashish, yeh tum kaunse zamane ki baat kar rahi ho? I don't find it wrong in anyway if the bride to be parties with her friends. Larke bhi tou party karte hain. So why can't the girls?"

"I agree with you but tum apne why ka jawab Maa se poochna. If she gets to know that Rhea went out, she'll be so upset with me. Sorry, go back inside but you can enjoy here as well." Girls' faces dropped at hearing Kashish.

"Kashish, Maa ko bataye ga kaun? Wo tou kal ayein gi and the girls will return by night. Kisi ko pata nahin chalay ga and even if it does, I'll handle. You don't worry." Sujal assured.

"Now girls, I'm letting you go out but on few conditions. First, you stay together at all times outside. Second, stay away from boys. Third, you won't send the guards away. Fourth, stay away from danger. Fifth and final, do what you're going out for.. Enjoy." The girls bid a cheerful good bye to both of them and left for their planned destination for the night amidst tight security.



Armaan walked across the venue of wedding that was being prepared for the occasion. He looked at everything and discussed each minor detail with the organizer. He wanted it to be perfect for his love, for him, for them.

"Are you sure this will be done by tomorrow? It looks like impossible to me. Why don't you increase your workers here?" Armaan said inspecting the site that was under construction.

"Sir, I assure you everything will be done by tomorrow night. Only the catering and flower arrangements will be left for the wedding day. Please don't worry. We never leave our customers unsatisfied." The event manager said walking besides him.

"I'm counting on you for this one. I don't want a single thing to be out of my proposed plan." Armaan turned to meet the security head.

"Yes. I wanted to remind you once again that only people with invitation cards should be allowed in. Any suspected person should be stopped until clearance from Arjun or Prem. I want you to deploy your guards around the venue especially mandap in casual clothes to avoid suspicion. If there's any mishap, remember it will cost you your jobs." The guard left nodding in agreement.

"Armaan, there you are. I've been looking for you all around." Sujal said walking towards him with Prem.

"Oh I was just checking if everything was going as planned or not. Is there something you needed Papa?" Armaan asked.

"Beta, you know a wedding is supposed to be organized by the bride's family but here you've taken over every responsibility. I'm not upset about it at all. I can see the love with which you're doing all this. All I wanted to ask of you was to let me pay for it." Sujal said.

"I'm sorry Papa, I took away from you a dream that every father dreams. I just want to amend my mistakes from the past and so thought of taking the first step on our wedding. I want to do this on my own but I don't want deprive you of your right too. So how about you organize our reception in Leeds?" Armaan spoke holding Sujal's hand.

"Thank you Beta." Sujal hugged Armaan, proud at his daughter's choice. He sent a silent prayer to keep his kids safe and happy.



Armaan stared at a box on the passenger seat of his car. He picked it up along with other boxes and carried it to his room. He placed them in the locker in his cupboard and opened one to reveal a beautiful piece of jewelry.

"You didn't call even once today. Kal tou dekhne se mana kara tha ab kya baat bhi nahin kar sakta? I'm missing you so much." Armaan spoke touching the pendant.

"Armaan jaldi karo. We have to reach the club in 30 minutes." Arjun knocked loudly on the door.

"Yaar mera ana zaroori hai kya? I don't feel like partying tonight." Armaan asked opening his door.

"Are you serious? Teri bachelor's party hai or tu hi mana kar raha hai." Arjun asked incredulously.

"Haan to when did I ask for one? Mujhse zyada to tum sab excited ho is keliye so why don't you go on and enjoy without me?"

"No, we're not going without you. Itna kuch socha hai hum ne party ke liye and you can't spoil it." Armaan rolled his eyes and walked towards his cupboard.

"Hurry up. I'm waiting downstairs." Arjun left the room.

Armaan noticed a bouquet of flowers and an envelope on his study table as he came to place a file.

"It looks like they've been here for long." He thought touching the wilting but soft petals of the flowers. A dimpled smile broke out on his handsome face as he read the note from Riddhima.

'I'm sorry for hurting your feelings last night. Please accept my apology. I love you Baby.. deeply.'

Armaan traced the pink lips stain below it gingerly. He thrust the note in his pocket before leaving his room.

 Nimra

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