Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Part 7 : In My Heart

The ladies had come to a shopping mall and Armaan was forced to tag along as their personal chauffeur. Armaan was bored just after the first 30 minutes; he couldn't understand what Muskaan & Naina were trying to do. They would enter every store in a line, see things, argue over prices and leave without any purchase. Armaan felt sorry for the shopkeepers, who had to bear this daily. Armaan decided to get out before he goes mad and so leaves on pretense of a call. It had been long and Armaan hadn't returned Prerna went to see where he was and found him staring in space while leaning on the railing: tu yahan kyun hai, ho gayi baat? Armaan nods: Ma can we please go back. I'm tired.                                                                                                             
Pr: Kuch hua kya? Abhi to aye hain, girls have just begun seeing things.   
                                     Ar: Oh ok, I'm going up to the food court, ap ka jab ho jaye to mujhe bol dena. He sits at the corner table out looking the city n waits for his coffee. Last night had been no less than a torture for him, he couldn't sleep a blink and all due to a certain SOMEBODY who refused to leave his thoughts alone for even for a moment. "Basket" he whispers n closes his eyes, her face, her twinkling eyes, her dazzling smile, her lips while she pouts, her innocence, her pure heart, he could see all of it. What is this feeling? I can still hear her melodious laughter and the beautiful picture she made standing at the beach. Is it attraction? I guess, but all the other feelings I have when she's around, I've never felt them for anyone else. I want to be around her always. I've known her for such a short period and yet why do I feel so low without her. When she gets busy on a call with her friend back home or ignores me why do i feel bad? I always want her full attention. Whenever she smiles at me, there's a strange happiness that engulfs me and it's even more if I'm the reason behind it. I feel like doing anything to keep her happy. I don't like it when she's upset, that day her tears had made me cringe. I wanted to sooth her, take away all her pain. Oh God, what is wrong with me, all I think about dese days is Basket, i see her in my dreams. Whom do I ask? Idea! Agony aunt. Of course i should ask her, she used to help everyone in the college, but she'll be after me if I tell her. Wait, i can ask her on a friend's behalf. Yes! Armaan dials a number and a female voice greets him.

Girl: Aa gayi tumhe apni best friend ki yaad?  Ar: Sorry yaar Nikki, have been really busy lately, that's why couldn't keep in touch with you.  Ni: Really! Aisa kaunsa kaam hai tumhara, jis ki wajah se tum hum SAB ko hi bhool gaye. Ar: Bus yaar tha kuch kaam. I didn't forget u guys, that's impossible, you know that, don't u?                                                                                                           Ni: Yea right. Bolo kaise call ki?                                                                                                                  Ar: Nikki, actually yaar, my friend needs some advice but you know na I'm nil in heart matters, so can u help?       Ni: Sure, who's the friend?      Ar: You don't know him, he's a business colleague.  Ni: Ahan, what's the problem?                                                                                                Ar: He's not with me right now; I'll ask him to write down his feelings to show u. You can reply me back n I'll forward it to him. Is that fine?   Ni: Nope! Why can't I talk to him directly?                           Ar: Tch Nikki, I can't do that. Samjha kar na, he's very shy types.                                                         Ni: Okaay!  Ar: Ok then, I'll talk later. Bye.

Armaan writes all his feelings and waits for Nikki's reply eagerly. After 5 minutes, his cell  beeped. He quickly opened the msg.                                                                                                          It read: You are in LOVE sweet heart! Good luck! ;)

Ar: What? Unbelievable! Crazy girl, aise thori hota hai pyaar. Yeah right, to phir kaise hota hai? Wait a second, he read da message again and smiled seeing that Nikki had understood it was about him.                                                                                                                                                      "Pyaar, mujhe Basket se pyaar hai, Basket se, Wow!" he had a goofy smile on his face saying it.                                                                                                                                                                        Ar: "Snap out of it Armaan. Are u crazy? Oh yes I am. Idiot!" he slaps himself to get him out of the trance. A: Should I tell Basket about it? No, I need to take this slowly and see if Basket has feelings for me or not? Thinking of Basket, what should I do now, she's upset with me. Think Armaan, think, it shouldn't be this difficult.

Armaan decides to send her a gift and so leaves in search of it. A big pink bunny with a red button nose appeals him. He asks the salesperson to get it delivered in India. Armaan places the online order and scribbles a note to be sent with it. Armaan couldn't wait to know Basket's reaction.

The next few days flew by working and later roaming around the city during the evenings in Malaysia. Armaan missed Basket all the more now that he had realized his feelings. He wanted to bring Basket here n spend time with her, he knew she would love this place as it had so many water sights to offer.

Riddhima had received a huge parcel the same day. Riddhima fumbled for words when Dadi had raised an eyebrow seeing the huge gift parcel. Ri: I don't know Dadi what this is and why he sent it. Dadi smiled and left her room. Riddhima placed the gift on the table and sat on her bed.  Ri: Hmm. Gift se mujhe behlana ki koshish kar raha hai. Nahi chahye mujhe us ka gift. She picked her book to read. After a while curiosity got the better of her and she unwrapped the gift carefully. Riddhima's anger flew out of the window seeing the bunny and his handwritten note. She hugged the bunny close to her and read the note:

To My Basket,

Janta hoon tum mujhse naraz ho, maine bohat sataya na tumhein. I'm so sorry. Abhi kliye ye apology accpet kar lo. Wahan aa ker main kaan pakar ke maafi mang loon ga, Promise.

Your Armaan.                                         

R: Itni asani se nahi manoo gi. Aik message nahin kar sakte they ke stay extend ho gaya hai. Kitni pareshan ho gayi thi main. Per tumhein koi fikar nahi hai meri, wahan khoob mazey kar rahey ho. Bunny accepted but your apology is rejected. She spoke to the bunny as if it was Armaan.

Armaan had visited 3 sites out of a total of 6 per day to complete the inspections in 2 days and simultaneously worked on their details to finalize one. Prerna had accompanied the girls everywhere they wished to visit, and didn't trouble Armaan unnecessarily. They would meet for dinner n then coffee near the pool side where they filled Armaan about the day. Prerna had noticed Armaan would zone out frequently and seen that even after a tiring day he would be up till late just tossing n turning in bed. Armaan had always been dedicated to his work, and this time was no different but, he was working overtime n trying to wrap it all up and rush back to India. Prerna had tried to ask him indirectly and all he said was that there was a lot pending in India's office. Armaan had reduced the stay much to girls' displeasure because there was so much left to explore according to them but Armaan had turned deaf ears and booked the first available flight. So they landed in India in the early morning of the 4th day. Anurag had come to pick them up at airport. Armaan had done his breakfast, updated Anurag on the project details and got ready for the orphanage. Anurag was stunned seeing Armaan go out within 40mins of his arrival whereas Prerna had looked on knowingly and shook her head.

A beautiful bouquet of 7 pink roses & i miss u card awaited Riddhima when she stepped out of the shower. She picked up the roses and inhaled their beautiful fragrance and then read the card. She frowns when she found no name written. She stood staring at it when suddenly someone screamed in her ear causing her to shriek. Armaan clutched his stomach and laughed seeing Riddhima's expressions. Riddhima held a hand over her heart and narrowed her eyes. The next second Riddhima had pounced on Armaan and started hitting him, Armaan let her hit him, Riddhima stopped after a while seeing that her small wrists would do no harm to his rock solid chest. Armaan held her wrists and pulled her closer when he saw she had given up.                                                                                                                                                                      Ar: Good morning Basket!  Ri: What's so good about this morning? She said wriggling in his hold.  Ar: I'm back, isn't this good? Riddhima looked up at him and found him staring at her longingly. She quickly lowered her eyes not being able to face the intensity of his gaze.             
 R: What are you doing in my room? She asked trying to move away from him.                                   A: Isn't it obvious? I'm here to meet you.                                                                                                    R: But I don't want to meet you, so please leave.                                                                                      A: You want me to leave? 
R: Yes. She said in a strict tone.                                                         
  Armaan felt sad: You are saying this because you are still upset with me.                                     

 R: No, who am I to be upset with you?                                                                                                        A: Basket, please I swear I tried to call u so many times but the stupid rains had hampered the networks.                                                                                                                                                    Riddhima turned away from him: you could have left have a message or an email. Armaan closed his eyes thinking how this did not occur to him. Ridddhima continued: but why would you care? After all u had a HUGE mission to complete. Do you know I called u so many times and even emailed you but you chose not to reply?  Of course why would you reply to somebody who doesn't matter to you?                                                                                                                             Armaan smiled hearing her say all that, it made him feel special. He walked in front of her n spoke: I didn't do anything on purpose; I really didn't check my email this whole week as I wanted to wrap up things and return. I had apologized rite?           

                                                           Riddhima huffed: Apology rejected.
A: Ok you want me to hold ears and say sorry. She nodded. Armaan chuckled on her antics. He held both her ears n said sorry. Riddhima's mouth formed a perfect O. She jerked his hands away.
                                                                                                       A: What?

  R: What what? Why are you holding my ears?                                                                   
 A: You only said to. R: I said to hold yours not mine.                                                                                  A: Oh I thought you wanted me to hold your ears.                                                                                   R: Don't act innocent Armaan. She said irritatingly.                                                                                 A: I'm sorry Basket. Riddhima saw earnest in his eyes and so she shook her head motioning him not to hold his ears. He smiled and hugged her.         

                                                                  A: Waisey how come you accepted the gift when my apology wasn't?                                           
 R: How could I say no to such a cuteee bunny? Thanks for the gift and these roses Armaan.     
A: No thank you Basket for accepting these and forgiving me. These 7 roses are for each day that i troubled u.                                                                                                                                                      R: Then you should have got 9 roses.                                                                                                         Armaan smiled: Oh so you were counting days also?  R: No.                                                                 Armaan shook his head, took out 2 roses from his back and gave it to Riddhima: one for not being able to come before leaving & this is for today. Now smile.                                               
Riddhima moved closer and hugged him: I missed you,                                                                   
 A: I missed u too Basket. He said wrapping his arms around her.

The remaining day went in a haste playing, chatting n munching on snacks with kids. Armaan Riddhima move out of kids' room after putting them to sleep. Riddhima switched on the night bulb and slowly closed the door. Armaan asked for hot chocolate in garden, she nods and leaves to prepare it while Armaan sat on swing. She came with 2 mugs. 
                                                                                                                                                                A: Ab bhi naraz ho mujhse? Riddhima shakes her head in no.                                                             A: Phir mujhse baat kyun nahi kar rahi?                                                                                                     R: Bol to rahi hun. She closes all the lights of garden and settles besides him.                                                                                                                                                                 
A: You know whenever I visited Switzerland, I always wanted to build a resort of my own, but it was extremely difficult to get a land there. Now a businessman is holding an auction of his land in Switzerland and it's perfect for my dream resort. He'll be giving the land not on price of it but on the basis of who uses it best. All interested parties need to give a presentation, I'm really looking forward to this as it will be my first solo project. The other companies participating are old and experienced in this field, I'm really nervous about it. You think i should go for it?                                                                                                                                                                     
R: Of course Armaan you should. So what if others are experienced, you'll also get experienced once you cross this stage, but to succeed you need to only concentrate on your presentation and not on the outcome. See that small star, how it's twinkling despite of being alone and in pitch darkness, it doesn't give up. Similarly however dark a situation gets, there's always a small ray of hope somewhere that we need to find and follow.                                                                                                                                                          Armaan keeps looking at her. He gazes at the star then back to her and takes her in a bear hug: thank u Basket. You're with me, right?                                                                                                     
 Ri: Always! Do you need to go back to Malaysia again?                                                                          A: Filhaal nahin. Tum kyun pooch rahi ho? R: Aise hi. She couldn't seem to forget the nightmare but chose not to tell Armaan.

Armaan greets Malik Empire's board members in the conference hall. They settle down and wait for Prerna who was late due to traffic. She enters and nods at Armaan to begin. He starts with telling the agenda. Armaan's cell beeps. He cuts the line without seeing the caller and excuses. The meeting proceeds and Armaan's cell beeps constantly.                                                         
Anu: Mr. Malik please switch off your cell.
Ar: Sorry Sir. He takes his cell from the table but seeing Basket flashing, he excuses and turns around: Later Basket, I'm busy now, he whispers. He hears sobs from the other side.                                                                                                       
 Ar: Hello Basket?       
Mi: Boyfriend. 
Ar: Minnie, tum ro kyun rahi ho?                                               
Anu: Armaan, continue your talks later.   Armaan ignores Anurag: Minnie bolo!                                  Mi: Di ka accident ho gaya hai.                                                                                                                 Armaan felt the earth slipping from beneath his feet. He gripped the table firmly from his back to support himself. His head was spinning and he felt his chest constricting with a dull pain.                                                                                                                                                           
 Anu: Mr. Malik!  Armaan snaps out of the trance and rushed out with his car's keys, mumbling emergency, while Prerna and Anurag kept calling him.                                                                         Ar: Which hospital Minnie?                                                                                                                          Mi: Ghar pe koi nahi hai, driver dadi ko le ke gaya hai. Di ke sir se bohat blood nikal raha hai. Wo mana kar rai hai hospital janay ko. Wo tumhein batane ko bhi mana kar rahi thi, main chup ke call kar rahi hun. Boyfriend tum aao ge na?                                                                                           
Ar: I'm on my way. He inserted the key, bringing the engine to life and screeched through the roads of Mumbai crazily.                                                                                                                           
 Ar: Minnie, us ke sir pe kuch rakho, takay bleeding rukay. Usey sonay nahi dena.                            Mi: Acha main phone rakhti hun.                                                                                                                     Ar: No don't. Line connected rehne do. He overhears Riddhima: main theek hun, ro mat tum log please.                                                                                                                                                              Mi: Thruv, Di k haath ki chot saaf karo, main un ke sir ko karti hun.                                                       R: Ouch! Armaan grips the wheel tight and presses the accelerator. He didn't know how many traffic rules he had broken today just to get there.                                                                                    R: I'll do it, tum log rehne do.  Mi: Di ap kaise karo ge, ap se aankhein nahi khul rahi. Riddhima couldn't keep her eyes open due to a throbbing pain in her head and leg. She felt dizzy.           
Ga: Di please open your eyes. 
Mi: Di please.                                                                                 
Armaan reached the orphanage and rushed in only to stop dead in the hallway seeing Riddhima lying on the couch with blood over her face n leg. Riddhima winced in pain and Armaan reached her in quick strides. She sees him from her half closed eyes.   
Ri: Armaan. Tum kyun..             
 A: Chup! He picks her up.       
R: Armaan, my leg!                                                                             
   A: I'm sorry; he takes her to the car carefully, buckles the seatbelt and leaves for hospital.         
 A: Basket don't close your eyes, talk to me. Armaan drives madly.                                                        R: Minnie ne phone kia na, maine mana kia tha usey. Tumhari meeting Armaan. Meri waja se..
 A: Shut up.                                                                                                                                                 R: Abhi bol rahey they baat karo ab chup kara rahey ho. She says with a pout seeing him tensed. They reach the hospital. He parks the car and rushes her in.                                             
The doctor in emergency ward attends her. Armaan stays out and does the formalities. The doctor takes her for a head scan after treating her sprained leg n bruised arms. Dr: Mr. Malik, she's fine now. The wounds aren't deep. She needs to rest because of the sprain n head injury. I've given her a pain killer and a sedative. You can take her home once she wakes up.                                                                                                                                                                     Armaan nods and goes in her room. There she lay, her pink churidaar, now red with blood, sleeping.  He could see she was in pain due to a slight frown on her forehead. He caresses her cheek softly and holds her hand. Armaan thniks: one more thing to note down in things I feel for Basket. I CANNOT see her in pain. He fisted his free hand on the bed trying to remove the picture of a bleeding Riddhima from his mind. Riddhima winces slightly while turning her head. A tear rolled out of his eye, how he wished to take away her pain. He felt helpless. Armaan informed at orphanage that she was fine and sleeping and they'll be back in sometime. Riddhima woke up after 3 hours to find Armaan staring at her. She tried to smile a little though it hurt a lot.               
 A: How are you feeling now?     
R: Better.                                                                                             
She is discharged after the final checkup. Armaan carried her to the car. They are on the way to Shanti Nagar.                                                                                                                                                       R: I'm sorry Armaan, due to me you had to leave your office. He keeps a straight face and remains silent.                                                                                                                                                R: Pareshan ho? No reply.  R: Naraz ho mujhse? I'm so sorry, I knew this meeting was really important for you, and I asked Minnie not to disturb you but she didn't listen to me.                                                                                                                                                                       
The car came to screeching halt at the corner of a road. Armaan was fuming with anger, he griped the steering tightly. He didn't want to shout at Riddhima right now but her constant sorry were making him mad.                                                                                                                           
Riddhma could see Armaan was upset with her but she couldn't understand what to do to calm him down.
R: If u want i can talk to your board members and tell them you didn't skip the meeting on purpose.                                                                                                                                 
Armaan lost his cool and grabbed her shoulder making her turn towards him. She winced but he couldn't control himself now: meeting, meeting, meeting! You've been talking about it since I came to you. This is how you think of me to be? So selfish n heartless! I don't mean anything to you, don't I? A meeting would be more important to me than your life? You didn't even want to tell me about your accident.                                                                                                                             
 R: Nahin Armaan, aisa nahi hai, it's just that I didn't want to trouble you for such a small thing.                                                                                                                                                                 
A: Small thing! You call these wounds a small thing. Damn you Riddhima! Do you know how frightened I was on seeing you lie covered in blood?                                                                             R: Sorry Armaan, I didn't intend to hurt you. Armaan closes his eye and gains his composure. He holds her face in his hands n says: don't ever do this again Riddhima. You mean a lot to me, I can leave anything for you, and this meeting is nothing in front of you. I've told you so many times that you can call me whenever you want or need me. Don't ever hide anything from me.                                                                                                                                                               Riddhima nods. Armaan wipes her eyes that were glistening with unshed tears due to his anger: I'm sorry, I didn't want to shout at you but your apologies made me lose it. He straightens n continues the drive. They reach Shanti Nagar and explained to Dadi how Riddhima had gone out to get the ball and got hit by a motorbike. Armaan had stayed back even after continuous assurance from Riddhima of being fine.   Armaan returns home late night from orphanage. He finds the mansion in darkness indicating all had retired for the day. He climbed the stairs to his room and on his way found light coming from his parents' room. Armaan goes there to tell them about Basket's accident but what he heard freezed him.                                                                 
 Anu: Don't you think it's quite early for us to tie Armaan in any sort of commitment?                            Pr: Of course not. He's old enough to start his own family.                                                                 Anu: Prerna, he's still not mature enough to take more responsibilities.                                         
Pr: Oh please Anu, tumhara bus chale to tum usey sari zindagi bacha bana k rakho. I want to see him married happily. U know Pooja has been asking me for a while now, whether i spoke to Armaan or not. All I've been doing is ignoring her.                                                                                 
Anu: She's just too much. Why is she in such a hurry?                                                                             Pr: Anu, she's a mother, a daughter's mother. She's bound to be worried about her daughter's future.                                                                                                                                                                Anu: I understand but still, I don't like the idea of getting Armaan n Naina together.                          Pr: She's a good girl, we know her, and she understands our family and above all Armaan n Naina are close friends. They'll take time to develop other feelings and for that we need to make them spend time together.                                                                                                                       
 Armaan couldn't take a word more, he was shocked and his head felt heavy. He turned & stumbled on the way to his room.       
       Anu: But still you should ask him, don't you think so?  
 Pr: Yea I will.
 Anu: Why can't we wait for him to fall in love like we did Prerna?
  P: Anu tum bhool rahey ho, wo tumhara beta hai. Agar wo kisi se pyar karta bhi hoga na to boley ga thori itni asani se.
Anu: What do you mean? Pr: don't act ignorant ok. Yaad nahi kitna sataya tha mujhe sirf ye batane mein k tum mujhse pyar karte ho. 
          Anu: Bolta nahin tha per apne actions se dikha to deta tha ke how much you mean to me.

                   Pr: haan per a girl wants to hear it from her love, it gives her a pleasure that nothing else can. Isi liye main Armaan ko bolun gi ke wo Naina se shaadi kar le, if he loves someone he'll definitely disagree and i have a feeling that he does love someone, actually some Basket. 
                  Anu: Basket? Ye kya naam hua?
                    Pr: Pata nahi per Armaan usey wohi bulata hai. I've seen him changing in the past 1 month, in Malaysia also he was so restless, just wanted to rush back to India. Warna pehle usey zabardsti wapis bulana parta tha.                                                                                                                                                    Anu: Really? Why didn't you tell me this before?                                                                                                                 
  Pr: I wasn't sure but aj usey dekh ke mujhe samjh aa gaya ke maajra kuch aur hi hai. 
                           Anu: Aj? Oh, so that call he received in meeting was Baskets'? I hope all is fine, he looked shaken.                                                                                                       
 Pr: Yea and he isn't back yet.                                                                               
Anu: What? But Muski just told me he's sleeping.                                                                                                                      Pr: I told her to say that warna you wouldn't have eaten dinner. He messaged Muski that he'll be late. He'll tell us everything when he is sure about his feelings. You know that don't u, he doesn't hide things from us.                                                                                                                                   Anu: I hope our kids find their true love just like we did.                                         Pr: me too. Anurag enveloped her in a hug n slept. 
The next entire day in office Armaan remained perturbed that Maa never mentioned this to me, about any such wish of hers. How will I say no to Maa if she wants this? How will she react if i tell her about basket? Armaan just went through the daily schedule mechanically, while his thoughts were all clouded but somehow completed the tasks. He stayed back after office hours to think about the current scenario and think of a way out. He felt suffocated and leaves the office and goes straight to orphanage. Armaan had been so immersed in his confusion that he hadn't noticed the time. Dadi is surprised to see him at this time. Armaan told her that all was fine and he had come to meet everyone. He asks how everyone slept so early, on which Dadi frowned and pointed towards the wall clock. Armaan was surprised that he stayed back at the office till 11 pm only trying to clear his muddled thoughts. Armaan excused for disturbing Dadi and turned to leave when she stopped him. Dadi handed him a glass of milk for Riddhima and said he could meet her. Armaan knocks on the door,
Ri: Dadi mujhe doodh nahi peena.                                                                                       
 Armaan smiles and opens the door: Main kahoon tab bhi nahin?                       
Riddhima looks up from a mess of papers she had made on the floor: Tum is waqt?                              A: Nahin aa sakta? 
R: Nahin.   A raises his eyebrow: Nahin?
 Ri: Tch, I mean nahin tum kabhi itna late aye nai na is liye hairan ho gai. Bache to so gaye hain.         A: Main sirf tumse milne nahin aa sakta kya?     
                                                                                                                             
Riddhima takes milk from him and placed it on table. He sits down with her.                                                                                                                                 
R: Kya hua, tum pareshan ho?  A: How r u feeling now?                                           
 R: Armaan!                             
A: Bus thora work load barh gaya hai isi liye.             
Ri: Armaan tum kab se ghabrane lagey work load se?                                                                                Armaan averts his gaze from her.                                                                           
Ri: Tumhe pata hai tum mujhse jhoot nahin bol sakte.                                     
 Armaan turns and simply hugs her tightly. Riddhima is surprised at his action but she holds him back. She caresses his hair with her fingers. Armaan relaxes a bit but doesn't leave her: Basket tum mujhse duur to nahi jao gi na?     
                 Riddhima is taken aback by his words: tum ye achanak.. Kya hua Armaan?                                                                                                                                  A: Mujhe laga ke.. Kuch nahin.. Please mat jana, kabhi nahin. He whispered in her hair.                                                                                                                          R: Main kahin nahin ja rahi Armaan, kabhi nahin. She said rubbing his back.                                                                                                                       They heard footsteps so moved away from each other. Dadi had come with Dinner for Armaan. Riddhima was shocked that Armaan hadn't had dinner till now. She gestured him to settle down so that she can serve him.                                                       

After dinner is over he picks up the papers from floor. A: Assignment complete kar rahi ho. shouldn't you be resting now?  Riddhima said she is repenting on skipping her lectures, now so much was piled up and she couldn't complete a single task. Armaan offered to help her with it and so they got down in collecting the information on her laptop.                                                                                     

It had become a routine for Armaan to first come to the orphanage and then go to his house at night. What Armaan hadn't noticed in his enthusiasm to meet Basket daily after office was a black SUV following him everywhere he went. Dadi looks at Armaan who's continuously pressing his forehead while playing with Minnie. She goes to kitchen and comes back with warm herbal oil. Dadi asked Armaan to get a head massage for his headache. But Armaan declined saying he was fine. Riddhima came and took the bowl from Dadi.                                                                                                          A: Tumhe ata bhi hai lagana?                                                                                                                    R: Wo to tum khud dekh lo ge abhi. Jaadu hai meri fingers mein.                             
A: Dekhte hain tumhara jaadu mujh pe chalta hai ya nahi. She gives him a challenging look and settles on the sofa and he sits down. She massages his head softly and slowly, putting pressure on all necessary points. Armaan feels relaxed n leans into her lap. Riddhima bends down n whispers: Chal gaya na jadu? Armaan smiles with his eyes closed.                                                                                                                             Pooja's distant relative had returned to India after 20 years to resettle here. She was glad to have him stay at her place, as she had always had a fatherly bond with him, and now that she had lost her husband and parents too, this was really welcoming. Rakesh uncle was the one to instill the idea of getting Armaan and Naina together in Pooja's mind. He had explained to her, how this would be beneficial for both the families and especially Naina. She would have a safe future plus a loving family. Pooja had loved the idea and had spoken to Anurag also on Rakesh uncle's insistence. Now the delay was bugging uncle a lot. He was trying to put sense in Pooja and trying to persuade her to talk to Armaan directly. He had also told her that if we took long, Armaan might fall in love and then it'll be hard to make him say yes. Pooja was concerned hearing this but she had declined to talk to him directly. Rakesh uncle was concerned because Pooja was innocent and couldn't turn the situation in her favor, so he had decided to help her. He asked her to get Armaan & Naina to spend time together, so that they could move forward from the line of fiends. Pooja promised to follow his instructions and mentally thought of a plan to bring the two together.

The next day, Anurag & Armaan were discussing a file, when Pooja entered the office. She found it the apt time to play her plan. Pooja appreciated Armaan for the hard work that he was putting in his work and then suggested that why doesn't he coordinate with Naina, this way he'll have help and she'll learn about business too. Anurag understood what Pooja was hinting at, somehow he couldn't agree to Naina as his daughter in law but he couldn't simply refuse. Armaan told her clearly that he didn't need any help, collected his files and left the cabin. Pooja stood stared at him leaving. She slumped on her office chair mumbling to herself. Pooja was so sure this plan would work but Armaan had downright rejected it. Rakesh uncle's words kept ringing in her head. She decided to talk to Prerna and inquire about this. Prerna had shown ignorance about Armaan falling in love; she did not want anyone to know until Armaan disclosed it. She assured Pooja of talking to him once his project completes but reminded her that they would not force Armaan into accepting this. Prerna thought to herself after cutting the call: Ye Armaan bhi na pagal hai, bolta nai hai kuch lekin harkatein aisi karta hai ke sab ko shak ho. Aik baar project ho jaye phir ache se kaan pakar ke poochon gi ke kab milwa raha hai Basket se? Samajhta kya hai ke khud nahin boley ga to mujhe pata nahin chaley ga us ke dil me kya hai?

Armaan rushed down the stairs in Malik Mansion, fixing his wrist watch. He had come early from office and was going to the orphanage, he was very happy as Riddhima had kept her promise of not baking for anyone other than him. The kids had wanted to eat a cake and so Riddhima had called him to ask his permission. He had agreed to it on condition that he wouldn't share his cake. She had grumbled but agreed. Naina & Muskaan watched him coming down; they winked at each other and ran to hold him by linking one of their arms from both sides. Armaan rolled his eyes: Ab kya hai?        M: Lets go we are ready.
 Ar: Kahan?                                                                     
 Na: Jahan tum jaa rahey ho.                                                                                                                                Ar: Main kaam se ja raha hoon. 
M: oh acha. Itna tayar ho kar?                                                                                                                                  Ar: Mujhe kyun pakra hai?                                                                                       
 Na: Wo kya hai na Armaan, hum bore ho rahey hain. She said with a pout.             
  Ar: To main tumhe joker dikh raha hoon, jo entertain karey.                                     
M: Nahi ap joker nahi per bohat hot dikh rahey ho. Isi liye hum ne socha ap humein dinner pe le jain ge.                                                                                                 
Ar: Dinner pe jana hai to jao, I'm not coming, I'm very busy.                                   
Pr: Acha and who is keeping you so busy these days, humein bhi to pata chaley?     
Ar: Ma woh, main, kaam.           
  Pr: haan bol na kaunsa kaam?                                                                                                                                           Ar: Ma woh actually, haan main Atul, Abhi se milne ja raha hoon.                               M: Chalo phir hum bhi chalte hain.                                                                                                                                 Ar: Nahin, mujhe kuch important kaam hai, phir wahan se jaon ga. Why don't you two go together?                                                                                                             Na: What is this Armaan, since I've come back, you don't have time to sit n talk with me even.                                                                                                                   
M: Aur nahi to kya, aik baar bhi humain kahin nahin le ke gaye. Pehle to khud bol ke le jatey they.                                                                                                             
Armaan closed his eyes and sighed. Muskaan was right; he wasn't taking out time for them recently. But he didn't do it on purpose. He looks at the time and decides to take them out for ice  cream.
Ar: ok let's go for ice cream but remember I'm NOT coming for dinner. I have work at that time so both of you better not create a scene at the parlor. Understand? Naina and Muskaan jumped happily and went to take their purse. Armaan dialed Basket's number and waited for her to pick up the call.         Ar: Hey Basket.                                                                                                                                          Ri: kya hai, kyun phone kia?                                                                                                                     Ar: Oh, angry are we?                                                                                                                             Ri: Come to the point, I'm not free.                                                                                                            Ar: Really and what is keeping you busy?                                                                                               Ri: Your stupid cake. Armaan knew it would be difficult for her to bake two cakes with kids around but then he couldn't help much.                                                                                                                 Ar: I didn't ask you to bake, you called trouble for yourself.     
  Ri: Yeah right, there's no point arguing with a stubborn kid.                                                                                                                               
Armaan chuckled: just wanted to tell you I'll be late, till then protect my cake from that motu Gappu.                                                                                                   
  Ri: Hmm and what do I get in return for all this hard work?                                   
   Ar: What do you want Riddhima? He spoke fondly in a husky voice.                                                                                                                           
 Ri: For now just promise that you'll give me whatever I ask. She spoke ignoring her rising heartbeat hearing his husky voice.                                                                                                                                                                  Ar: Promise.                                                                                                              Ri: Soch lo Armaan, this deal can cause you a lot. She said mischievously.               
Ar: I don't care.                                                                                                     
Ri: Okay your wish, baad mein mat kehna, maine bola nahin.                                                                  Ar: Kabhi nahin bolun ga. See you soon. Bye Basket.
Prerna had witnessed this scene. Armaan had been so involved in the call that he failed to notice Prerna standing behind him. She smiled thinking that her intuition was right, her son was in love. She thought of teasing him a bit. Armaan turned back and collided into her. Prerna raised an eyebrow and spoke: Mil gayi permission?             Ar: Jee?                                                                                                                   Pr: I asked you got the permission to take your sister out?                                                                                                                          Ar: Permission? I was just informing Atul that I'll be late.                                         Pr: Oh acha! So Atul promise kis baat ka kar wa raha tha? Armaan face palmed mentally realizing Prerna had overheard his conversation.                                         Ar: woh actually I had told I'll cum early but now he has to wait na so is liye. Armaan relaxed seeing Muskaan come down; he quickly strode towards her, leaving Prerna smiling behind.


Riddhima had gone to the boutique to pick clothes for Sujal n Rahul, which Dadi had given to be stitched. The designer wasn't available at that time, he had gone out, and his assistant was present. There was no other customer in the shop as it was early morning. Riddhima handed him the receipt of their order. The assistant held her hand on the table and asked her name. Riddhima got scared and tried fleeing but he went near her and cornered her near the store room. He raised his hand to touch her trembling lips: bohat khoobsurat ho tum. Kitne dino se koi acha maal haath nahin laga per aj to lottery lag gayi. Riddhima flinches and closed her eyes. A moment passed and then 2, nothing happened, Riddhima opened her eye to peep and the sight before her shocked her. An enraged Armaan was holding the arm of that guy. Riddhima sighed in relief. Armaan stepped ahead and pulled Riddhima behind him.                                  He spoke in a calm yet grave voice: Kia soch raha tha tu? Tuney haath kaise uthaya is ko choone ke liye? Bol?                                                                                              The guy shivered seeing Armaan's eyes screaming murder. Armaan punched him till his nose & mouth started bleeding, n he had dropped on the floor unconscious. Riddhima held Armaan's hands to stop him but he wouldn't budge, then she screamed: Armaan please woh mar jaye ga. Armaan jerked her hand away and called the designer. He threatened him that next time if this guy is around, he'll get his shop closed down. Armaan dragged Riddhima out with him; sent the driver away and pushed her in his SUV. Riddhima was scared seeing his anger. He asked n she explained why she came here. He told her next time u don't have to come, i'll pick up the dresses. Riddhima asks him to go to the beach. The beach was empty as it is still morning and a workday. They stroll on sand bare feet. Armaan doesn't speak and keep walking with a straight face, to lighten his mood Riddhima threw a handful of water on his face. He was shocked.                                                                                                                                                         Ar: Ye kya tha?  She says: Water, to cool you down Mr. Angry Malik.                         A: Basket ki bachi, i won't leave u.                                                                                                                                  R: Pehle pakar ke to dikhao Mr. Malik. She runs away showing her tongue. Armaan chases her. After catching her, he bends down in the water with her and keeps splashing water on her. She keeps laughing and fidgeting in his hold to get away. Finally she says sorry. Armaan turns her in his hold and tells her that he was scared what would have happened if he wouldn't have reached on time. He tells her to take care of her as she's very precious to him. They left after having narial pani. Prerna teased him at home when he returned to change his clothes for office that how come it rained on him only and that too off season.

It was the last weekend before the school reopened after the winter break, hence Armaan had decided to spend the entire day with the kids. He joined them at breakfast. Ar: wow, kya zabardast khushbu aa rahi hai aloo k parantho ki, my appetite has quadrupled. Dadi laughed and laid the plate for him while he settled down at the table. Armaan quickly took a bite and closed his eyes savoring the taste and mumbled: mmm, just perfect. Everyone stare at him n giggle, because as always he kept stuffing his mouth. Armaan asked in between eating: Waisey Basket dikhai nahin de rahi? Riddhima came out with a parantha and dropped it on his plate. Ar: Hi Basket. Aao na, tum nashta nahin karo gi? Ri: Karun gi na agar ap ki aagya ho to. Ar: Matlab? R: Matlab ye ke jab ap khana kha lein ge to main khaon gi. Ar: kyun? Tum mere saath bhi kha sakti ho Basket, I really don't mind.  Ri: But I do mind!  Ar: Ok, as u wish and continued eating.  Ri: Urghh.  Ar: Dadi ap ke haathon mein to jaadu hai and kisses her hands. Dadi smiles: mere nahin Riddhima ke.  Ar: Haan her food also tastes, umm ok, but nothing compared to this. Riddhima over hears him: haww.  Ar: oh no!  Ri: Kya kaha tum ne?  A: Maine, kuch bhi to nahi. Haina bachon? All nod there heads. Armaan finishes his parantha and asks for more.  Ri: khatam ho gaye.  Ar: Per maine to abhi khana shuru hi kia hai. Ri: Kyaa? Pagal ho, Kitna khao ge?  Da: Riddhima!   Ri: Kya Dadi 8 parantha kha chuka hai or bol raha hai ke abhi or khaye ga. Mota.    A: haan, to tumhein kyun problem ho rahi hai?   Ri: Is liye kyunki main thak gayi hun. Ar: To baith jao na. Waisey bhi kitchen mein free kharay rehne se pakana nahi aye ga tumhe. Ri: Kya, main, mujhe pakana nahi ata? Ar: Oho Basket don't take it to heart yaar. Aa jaye ga tumhe bhi, bus thori practice ki zarurat hai. Aisa karo ab tum mere liye parantha banao, tumhari practice bhi ho jaye gi or mera pait bhi bhar jaye ga. R: Or khana hai? Armaan nods. Ri: To khud ja ke banao, ata rakha hai. Da: Riddhima aise nahi kehte. Main bana deti hun. Ri: Nahi Dadi. Ar: Nahin Dadi. Both spoke together. Ar: I mean I'm full now. Riddhima brings a bowl of gajar ka halwa and everyone relishes on it except for Armaan, who on looks them with both his hands on his cheeks and a pout, because Riddhima had denied him any. She had said: tum to ye nahi kha sakte Armaan, kyunki ye maine banaya hai. You know, my food tastes ok. So I don't want to bother you with my cooking till I get perfect. Armaan huffed & left for the terrace. After sometime Riddhima brings him coffee. Ar: No need. Ri: Kyun ab tum mere haath ki coffee bhi nahi pi sakte? Ar: You don't need to bother for me. Riddhima sensed that Armaan had really become angry. Ri: Armaan, kya hua, aise kyun bol rahe ho? He ignores her. R: Naraz ho gaye? Main mazak kar rahi thi. She holds his arm to turn him, but he jerks her hand away: I don't want to talk. Ri: Acha baat nahi karni, chalo phir main ye Gappu ko de deti hun, wohi kha le ga. She turns around but Armaan snatches the bowl of halwa. Ar: Koi zarurat nahi, ab tum mere liye layi ho main kha loon ga. Riddhims shakes her head. Armaan stuffed his mouth n says: although itna acha nahi bana ye. Ri: Haww, she hits him on his arm: To kyun kha rahe ho, wapis do mujhe & tries taking the bowl but Armaan holds her hands with his one hand and she makes a sad face. Armaan keeps the cup on the side & pulls her closer: janti ho mujhe lagte tha sirf Ma hi itna delicius khana paka sakti hai. Lekin tum ne mujhe wrong prove kar dia because tum jo bhi banati ho it's always tasty. Riddhima looks up: Jhoot. Ar: Sach & kisses her hand in his grip. Riddhima looks down n pulls her hand from him: to neechey kya bol rahe they? Ar: I was just kidding; i knew paranthe tum ne hi banaye hain. But kya hai na Basket, tumhe pareshan karne main bohat maza ata hai mujhe. Ri: haww. You were irritating me on purpose?                                                                                                             Ar: Haan. Tum gussa se jab laal ho kar munh phulati ho na to or bhi sundar dikti ho. He said closing the distance between them and lifted her chin to see in her eyes. Both stare at each other forgetting their surroundings.
Armaan and Riddhima had pushed the kids to bed because they were adamant on staying awake till Armaan left. Armaan had promised to narrate a story on their insistance. Riddhima had gone out of the room after kids fell asleep but Armaan had stayed back to talk to Gappu.  Ar: kya hua Motu, phirse Maasi ne teri chocolates bund kar deen jo ab tak jaag raha hai. Ga: Ab main chocolates nahi khata. Ar: Oh really? Kal raat ko kaun kha raha tha? Ga: Woh to Di ne mujhe khilayi thi, ab mana kar ke un ka dil thori tor sakta tha. A: Kitne mahaan hain ap Gappu jee. Acha bata problem kya hai?  Ga: Kal se skool reopen, phir hum studies mein busy ho jain ge, or ap ana phir bund kar do ge.    Ar: Aray main kyun ana bund kardu ga? Ga: Kyunki Di chali jaye gi.       Ar: Di kahan chali jaye gi? Ga: Wapis apne ghar.                                                Armaan had gone quite remembering Riddhima had to leave. Gappu told him that he heard her telling to somebody that she would return in 2 weeks. Armaan wondred why she hadn't told him of this yet? He was lost in his own thoughts when Gappu asked him whether he liked Di and Armaan had said a lot, then he asked that he came to meet her daily, Armaan replied in the affirmative without thinking. Later he got wat Gappu was saying & he protested: koi nahi, main to tum logon se milne ata hoon. Jab woh nahi thi tab bhi ata tha na?                                                                                                  Ga: Haan per har roz to kabhi nahi aye, hamari vacations mein bhi nahi.                    Ar: Oyye mote apne chote se brain pe kum load daal or so jaa, kya kya sochne laga hai. Ga: Bhaiya jitna chota ap samjhte ho na main utna chota hoon nahi, sab samajhta hoon. Armaan stood up to cover Gappu wid the comforter: Aur kya samjhte hain ap?          Ga: Yahi ke ap Di se pyaar..

Armaan had put his hand on Gappu's mouth to stop him from speaking: Sshh. Kuch bhi boley jaa raha hai. Kisi ne sun lia to?  Ga: To kya hua, sach hi bol raha hun. Haina? Armaan smiled & ruffled his hair: Chal ab so ja or please tu us ko yeh sab bakwas mat sunana. Meri Basket bohat bholi hai, teri baaton se durr jaye gi.                               Ga: Nahi bolun ga, per ap to un ko bol sakte ho na?

Armaan shook his head and left the room. He was so immersed in his thoughts that he didn't notice Riddhima coming towards him talking on her cell. Both of them collided. Riddhima was so busy talking that she hadn't seen Armaan. The sudden collision made her squeal & close her eyes. But when she stopped in mid air she understood that Armaan had caught her, his touch had become familiar to her. She opened her eyes when he spoke: you are safe now. Both of them drowned in each others eyes, taking in the unsaid words. Riddhima broke the trance when she could no longer stare in his intense eyes: kya hai Armaan, dikhta nahi hai, abhi main gir jati to?                          Ar: mere rehte tum kabhi nahin gir sakti. Ri: achaaw. A smiled & nodded but then remembered what Gappu said n sobered up. Riddhima noticed his change of expressions: Kya hua Armaan? A: kuch nahi. He didnt want to ask if she wasn't willing. Ri: Armaan mujhe tum se kuch baat karni thi, kai dino se main chah rahi thi ke tumse kahun per.                                                                                                         Armaan saw her face dropping & understood she wanted to inform him about her departure. He was glad she didn't hide it. Armaan holds her hand & nods his head towards garden. She followed behind with him holding her hand.                     Riddhima told him that she had to return in 2 weeks due to her classes. Armaan said that Dadi and kids will miss her here. Ri: Or tum? Armaan stopped playing with her fingers & looked at her: Main kya?  Ri: Tumhe mere janay se koi diference nahi hoga? Ar: Nahin. Ri: Tum mujhe miss nahi karoge?  Ar: Bilkul nahi.                                                                                                                                 Ri: Haww, tum aise kaise bol sakte ho? I thought you would ask me to stay back and say you would miss me.                                                                                             Ar: Main bolun ga to tum ruk jao gi? Riddhima saw the smile on his lips n regretted saying it. Now this idiot will keep teasing her. Armaan smiled at her innocence. Riddhima tried to cover up for her blunder: why would I stop, I also have work & my family n firends waiting for me. I'm not as free as u think I am. Ar: Acha?                  Ri: Hmm. Armaan I had to tell u something else also. I have a meeting with the trustees of Sanjeevani hospital, to discuss about their view on expanding the chain of Sanjeevani outside India. Ar: Why?                                                                  Riddhima told him that her Papa and his best friend had laid the foundations for Sanjeevani. It's her father's dream to see Sanjeevani among the best hospitals of the world, and so she wants to make this dream true by expanding it outside India. She told him that she has been working on this for years but couldn't take an initiative. But now her Brother had fixed a meeting and she was supposed to impress the trustees to work on this project.                                                                                             Armaan was confident that Riddhima wouldn't have a problem convincing the authorities. She told him that her meeting was also on the same day as his presentation. Ar: Wow, that's great. So we'll have 2 things to celebrate, infact 3 by the end of that day.
 Ri: 3? Ar: hmm. Surprise for u.
Ri: Really, what is it?   
        Ar: Basket you do know the meaning of surprise, don't you?                                      Ri: I know but you can atleast give a hint, I promise I won't tell anyone.                                                                                                             Armaan chuckled at her curiosity: Basket the surprise is only for you, n u will have to wait for it. Ri: This is not fair. How will I wait for so long? Ar: It's not long, just 10 days. Riddhima suddenly remembered about her return: yeah n then I have to go back. Armaan knew she was sad about this but he couldn't say anything till he confessed n for that both of them had to wait. He would make sure she comes back n that too for good.                                                                                                                                                  Ar: Acha no sulking now, come help me with the project.                                            Ri: You brought your work here?                                                                             Ar: Yeah, what's the use when we talk all nite on mobile while I do my work? I thought it'll b much better if you help me out cox i need help desperately.                             Ri: How can i help?                                                                                                   Ar: Of course u can, I will show you, come, plus I need to train u for our dream project too.                                                                                                              Ri: No need to waste your time, you'll forget about it after I leave cox you said you won't miss me.                                                                                                          Ar: Tch Basket, why would i miss u when you'll always be with me? Ri: Huh?           Ar: kuch nahi, zyada mat socho or chalo. He made her stand and took her upstairs to her room.

The next few days went in complete haste for Riddhima & Armaan. At Mallik Mansion, Muskaan was getting ready to leave for Leeds and here Riddhima was also packing along with preparing her presentation. Armaan would hve dinner with his family and leave for the orphanage when they left for their rooms. Both Armaan & Riddhima would sit together at night and work on their tasks chatting away with coffee. He would return home early morning, take a nap and then go to his office.

Riddhima was alone in the orphanage; everyone had left to attend the yearly event organized by Sanjeevani in it's Panchmeshwar branch. She had to stay back due to her meeting & precisely she had wanted to be there for Armaan on his presentaion. It was getting late & Armaan hadn't turned up today, so Riddhima went in for her routine night shower. Armaan came in and found the orphanage empty, he called out for Riddhima but there was no response. He saw the lights flicker before going off followed by Riddhima's shriek. Riddhima was coming out of the shower when she fell forward on the slippery floor due to the dark. Armaan rushed into her room but couldn't spot her. He immidiately switched on his mobile torch and den opened the blinds. He knocked on the toilet door: Basket are you ok? Riddhima managed to get up n limp towards the door but before she cud open it Armaan had broken through. Riddhima lost her balance only to her have swing back into Armaan's arms. She had her eyes closed in fear of the fall but it never came, instead she was pulled off the ground and moved in the room. She opened her eyes slowly. Words evaded Riddhima when she saw Armaan, she opened her mouth but no words came out, instead she felt as if drowning into an intense pair of blue orbs. Ri: Armaan. She whispered slowly. Armaan pulled her closer by waist. He was mesmerized seeing Riddhima in a purple bathrobe; she looked ethereal with the moonlight shining softly & enhancing her features. He couldn't help but trace the path of water droplets making there way into her cleavage with his eyes. Riddhima stood there trying to read the emotions in those beautiful eyes which always held her captive. She could sense Armaan was trying hard to restrain himself from something. Armaan didn't know when his fingers moved n brushed against her cheek. Riddhima gasped n stiffened. Armaan slowly stroked her cheek pushing the wet strand of hair away from her face and rubbing circles on her waist when he felt her stiffen. Riddhima looked in his eyes to find him staring at her with a fiery passion. Armaan found all his self control flying out of the window on having her so close like this. He leaned in and rubbed his cheek against her, Riddhima shuddered against him but din't flinch. He remained in that position for sometime inhaling her scent. Armaan followed the water drops by his nose stopping at cleavage. He looked at Riddhima, who was breathing heavily while holding his collar for support. Armaan smiled n kissed her cheeks. Riddhima couldn't understand what was happening to her. The butterflies were dancing like crazy in her stomach n her heart was about to explode. As Armaan kissed her she couldn't help but lean into his hold, she loved this new sensation. Armaan continued kissing every inch of her face, she felt her legs giving up n she threw all her weight on him when he placed open mouth kisses on her neck. He traced his way back to her face and moved back to see her biting her lower lip. Armaan let out a small groan and rubbed his thumb over her lower lip. Riddhima opened her eyes and saw Armaan staring at her lips and then back to her eyes. She understood he was waiting for her approval to kiss her, she leaned her face closer to him. Armaan took the cue and captured her lip slowly but moved back after a peck. He knew he wouldn't be able to control himself longer if they continued kissing. Riddhima opened her eyes when she felt him moving away. He saw the confusion in her eyes. He kissed her forehead and spoke in a hoarse voice: I'll cross all the limits if I don't stop now.

There was a loud knock on the door that made Riddhima jump: Bitya, the fuse is blown. It's too late to call an electrician, subah hi kuch ho sakey ga. I've got you candles, please take these. Armaan pulled Riddhima who was moving towards the door n whispered: tumhare kapre. Ridhima looked down & blushed profusely seeing herself in a bathrobe. Watchman: Bitya are you dere? Armaan returned with candles to an empty room. He heard the toilet door click from inside. It had been 15 minutes and Riddhima was still inside.                                                                                                       Armaan became tensed and knocked: Basket, why aren't you coming out? Are you ok? Basket, what's wrong? A sob from inside made him restless: Basket are you opening, or should I break the door? Riddhima slowly opened the door but didn't step out. Riddhima had gone in to change when all that happened in spur of the moment dawned on her. She couldn't believe she had given in so easily. What did she do? What would Armaan think of her now? How did she lose herself? She couldn't face Armaan, not now atleast. She didn't even know if Armaan felt something for her or not? She started crying silently but Armaan's knocks made her open the door slightly.             Ri: Armaan I want to be alone for sometime, please.                                            Armaan frowned as to why she wanted to be alone all of a sudden; he closed his eyes in frustration understanding that she was repenting the moment between them. He pushed the door open and pulled her out. She collided into his chest. Armaan saw her tear stricken face.                                                                                                   He kissed her tears away and spoke: you are crying over what happened between us now? Riddhima looked down. Ar: I do not regret the close moment between us Basket. Riddhima looked up at him.                                                                                 Armaan continued stroking her cheeks: Not a bit. I don't consider it to be a mistake. Please don't cry Basket. I'm sorry I should have controlled myself.                           Ri: It wasn't your fault Armaan, I should stopped you but I.. she started crying again. Ar: Basket, I had wanted to tell you something from sometime but couldn't. I think I should let you know now. Basket you are very special for me, like very very special and today what happened was just a glimpse of my feelings for you. Do you understand what I'm saying? Riddhima looked down. He said wiping her tears: can you wait till the deal finalizes, I have a surprise waiting for you. She nodded her head.                     Ar: Ok now lets put distance between us before I jump over you again. Do you know how irrisistable you looked in that bathrobe?                                                            Ri: Armaan, hitting him on his arm. He smiled and hugged her.                                      A (thinking): I love you Basket.

Armaan had stayed back at orphanage as he was completing his files and also because Riddhima was alone in the dark. After finishing the work, they played games on his laptop, in which Armaan was losing miserably. He was constantly grumbling as to why he taught Riddhima to play; now she was beating him at every chance like a pro. But the real reason for Armaan's defeat was Riddhima, when she would be completely concentrating on the screen, he would only stare at her and keep playing. He loved how she jumped n squealed in excitement when she won. Riddhima had caught Armaan staring at her, she slapped his cheek and motioned towards the screen but Armaan shook his head.

Today it felt like all distances between them were overcome. Armaan had thought that Riddhima would avoid him after what had happened but to his surprise she was beaming and full of energy. This gave Armaan the confidence he needed to confess, he knew now that she too felt something for him. Riddhima packed away the remote sticks n stuff when she noticed Armaan was in no mood to play. Then they sat chatting till they fell asleep on the soft fluffy rug. It had become really chilly at night, Riddhima shifted uneasily in her place to find some warmth and on finding it; she stretched herself properly and slept. The next morning Riddhima's sleep broke with the ring of her alarm. She opened one eye to look at the time and that's when she got the biggest shock. She was laying on top of Armaan with his arms tightly holding her waist and their legs intwined. Riddhima blushed seeing their state and thought it better to move away before Armaan woke up. She tried to get up only to have Armaan pull her back to him. Armaan had a huge smile on his lips showing his dimples, he kept staring at her while she looked everywhere except for him. His heated gaze sent shivers down her body. Riddhima tried to detangle herself from him but couldn't: Armaan choro mujhe. A: Good morning Basket! He said in his sexy voice kissing her cheek.                                                                                                                     She closed her eyes to tried to control her madly beating heart: go..good morning.    Ar: Not fair Basket, I wished you so nicely and look at you, now where's my morning kiss?                                                                                                                  Riddhima stared at him in astonishment; she couldn't believe Armaan was really saying this.                                                                                                                  Armaan noticed her expressions and spoke moving her hair from her eye: I have no problem staying like this for the rest of my life but i thought you wanted to move. Riddhima wriggled but Armaan said: Oh no, you aren't going anywhere, atleast not before u give me my kiss.

R: Armaan I think you aren't feeling well, dekho kaisi behki baatien kar rahey ho. Wait I'll get you some medicine.                                                                                A: Did you hear what I said? Riddhima shook her head.                                              A: oh you didn't, i'll repeat it for you. My Kiss! He whispered in her ear.                Riddhima motioned towards her ears with her hand indicating she couldn't hear, she thought this will get her out of this but Armaan was at his naughty best.                    He smirked: Well then i guess i need to show you.                                                    Before Riddhima could grasp his words, he held a hand on her head and rolled on the rug. Now she was beneath him, squirming to get out of his hold. He held both her hands above her head and dipped his face in her neck. This made Riddhima stop moving. Armaan gave butterfly kisses on her throat & neck. Riddhima shivered with his touch. He kissed her eyes, nose, and cheeks & traced the outline of her lips with his tongue, causing Riddhima to moan in pleasure. Armaan captured her lips in a soft tender kiss, which was turning passionate as Riddhima moved her now free hands over Armaan's chest and nape making Armaan groan. She pulled him more into her and fisted his hair, urging him to go on.                                                                                                Armaan pulled out n spoke breathing heavily: stop responding Basket; otherwise you'll end up in trouble.                                                                                                   Riddhima bit her lip and pulled her hands away, embarrased to have reciprocated the kiss so passionately. Armaan smiled n kissed the blush that appeared on her cheeks. He got off her and helped her in sitting. With a peck on her lips Armaan wished her luck for the meeting. Riddhima didn't dare look at him let alone say a word. Armaan chuckled at her response n left for Mallik Mansion. She sat there thinking how the equation had changed between them suddenly from that of friends to something more. Or was it from always like this, just little privacy brought their true emotions out for each other? Whatever it was, Riddhima knew the feelings were mutual nd that gave her a sense of serenity.

In a rush to get back home before anyone suspected, Armaan had forgotten his presentation file in Riddhima's room. She had messaged Armaan about it and he had instructed the driver to pick it up. The driver had come with a bouquet of purple roses. She took it happily & asked the driver to wait. Riddhima went out in the garden and plucked a white rose. She placed it in the file with a note & handed it to driver.

Armaan smiled widely seeing the note:                                                                      Best of luck Armaan. Remember I'll be waiting for you impatiently & my surprise too.                                                  Your Basket.

Armaan traced his finger on the pink lips mark on the note. He loved the way she had made up for the morning. He wanted to rush back and kiss her senseless, but now it was more important for him to win this deal because he had decided to propose her once the deal finalizes. But he was sure of one thing, deal or no deal, he won't let Basket go away from him, no matter what.

Prerna was getting agitated. It had been a week since she started getting unknown messages on her mobile, each time a single alphabet written in it. At first she took it to be a joke but then it said to join all the letters. It read: its payback time. This had shaken Prerna, she wasn't sacred for herself but for Anurag and her kids. She couldn't understand who would want to harm them & why? She had hidden this from Armaan and Anurag because she was sure both of them would trace that person and end up in trouble. They were so over protective of their family. The biggest shock came today, when a parcel was delivered on her name. It had a note:                                                                                                                          Get prepared to lose your most beloved thing. I will snatch all your happiness just like you did Mrs. Prerna Anurag Mallik.                                                                       
Your: Bad luck!
     

          Nimra 

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