The Winner Takes It All - II

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Mar 12, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 109 times)

Chapter-71

DHARWAD

Aarushi sat looking at him, her hand still in his, tears pouring down her cheeks. "And I'm still searching for an answer to her question."he ended.

"And you never met amma again...?"

Arnav nodded, "Not until few months back.."

She wiped her face, "And you never got to tell her the reason?"

Again Arnav nodded. "What happened to the deal? Did it go through?"

Again Arnav nodded, all the memories flooding his brain,  too pained to say anything.

"Arnavji?"

"Haan.."

"The deal?"she asked.

"Nothing came out of it. Madhav had left the next day. Of course I was in no state of mind for cracking any deal..."he laughed. "I was made a complete fool of. After my uncle's death my dadhi  wrote all her properties to two of us. We sold some and pledged some and started of, it was very tough for the first year but pulled through now it's one of the premium companies. "

"What if you had just opened that door and walked out?"

"I was scared...like never before...I only wanted to protect Kushi and my unborn baby. You know  throughout my life I never used to even accept, look straight and smile when being second, and here I was losing,  for the first time I found myself at the receiving end. And I lost my footing. I had threatened many, taken advantage of the opponent's weaknesses, for signing a deal. And here she had indeed done a thorough research on me. She knew that my family was my weakness. What if she had done as she  had threatened? I know you can throw money  to some journalists, they'll make your life hell. How many times I've used my own friends who were in the media for my benefits. Though I've never used anybody for ****ual favours.  There were hundreds of girls out there to further their careers, did photo ops with me to later brag about their proximity to me. None of them mean anything to me. And I know, many of them would not lose a second to get their share of fifteen minutes fame. Just drop a word here and there, that's it... Viola...there you have a new womaniser in town! What if, in the name of investigation, all the truth about Shyam and Kushi, Neha and her father my families bitter past every thing came out? All that will be analysed and judged not by just a few but lakhs and lakhs of people and I'll be crucified daily. I didn't want Kushi to be caught in the centre of that whirlpool and end up clinically depressed, like lot of women and men finally end up after such a fiasco...even if they were proved otherwise. And I keep asking myself would I have acted differently if there was going to be trouble for Akash, or di...or..Ashwin? But the point is had I been handling this from the beginning, I would have known who I am going to deal with, this situation would have never risen. I've no answers for million other questions that come to my mind. But one thing Aarushi... I often used to tell, I took decisions which I considered  the best at that situation, and the consequences... Whatever they might be...good or bad I was ready to face them and I never shied away from facing the results of my actions."  They were silent for few minutes, both sat starring at the food in front of them.

"Arnavji..now listening to you after all these years...and knowing the kind of person you are ....looks like you had suffered a raw deal....but guess I would also have reacted like amma."she said slowly.

"I don't blame Kushi at all.... Aarushi... Keep that in mind....any other woman would have been pissed off and no- talking match would have continued for a couple of days then I would have said sorry and she would have listened patiently to all my lies and forgotten our misunderstanding and life would have taken it's normal course. But Kushi being Kushi.....caught me in my act. Because she very well knew I wouldn't have left Delhi and I wouldn't have switched off my phone without reason. I don't blame her at all. Imagine day in and day out facing a man who had breached your trust. Over the years she would have grown to hate me. In  fact I admire her mental strength, considering the fact that she had just delivered the baby few hours back, and she was physically too weak to even sit up and notice. We might never know if things would have worked fine if I had walked out. All I was thinking about was Kushi and my baby must be safe. But I'm sure now  your mother has to accept the fact that I do right my own destiny and those around me as well."he laughed cynically. They had their dinner silently.

An hour later after their dinner they were walking out to the car park when Aarushi said, "Arnavji, let me drive...I don't think..."

"Yeah...it is better...we don't want more trouble, do we?" He laughed.

She waited till he sat and put his seat belt on, then came around and sat. On their way she said slowly, "Arnavji...Kushal and I had along discussion some time yesterday, "

"And?" Arnav asked her wondering what she was getting at.

"We have decided that we'll stand by amma ... that is we'll welcome whatever decision amma takes regarding her future...."she said hesitatingly. 

He smiled, "You are a good girl Aarushi.... I'm proud of you. I cannot expect anything more ...Honey..." 

They reached their home, before walking in, Arnav turned to his daughter,  "Aarushi... Don't forget I'm always there for you and Kushal....at any point of time....anything at all  you need...I'll be just a phone call away."

"I know.... Arnavji." she said,  hesitated a second then hugged him, tight. 

"I love you ...Honey." he whispered, rubbed her back  and said, "Let's go...your mother will be worried. She would have heard the car come in."

Kushi was waiting for them, and one look at them she knew what had transpired between the father and daughter. She looked uneasily at her daughter. Aarushi eased her tension and said, "We had a wonderful dinner...didn't we Arnavji?" Arnav simply nodded. "We'll talk in the morning, I'm super tired...good night, amma...Arnavji."

Both mumbled a good night and looked at each other. 

"Good night Kushi!"he said and slowly climbed up the stairs. She kept looking at him. He went inside his room, and saw Kush on the bed with a laptop and books spread all around him, busy working.

"Oh! I'm sorry! Am I intruding?" Arnav asked, his speech was a bit slurred.

Kushal looked up and smiled, "oh hello sir! Actually... My things were already here so I just....I ...I'm sorry..."

"No problem son!" He took out his duffel bag from the closet, dumped in his things and said after five minutes, "See...I'm done... I leave you to what is rightfully yours..." He turned to walk out, "No..no..Arnav sir...you can.."

"It is okay my boy...no sweat...I'll just move in to the guest room downstairs. I don't want to disturb you." he was already down the stairs. He placed the bag in the room downstairs removed his shirt and went inside the bathroom. He kept looking at himself in the mirror. He found it strange, because it had been ages since he actually looked at himself in the mirror. He had stopped looking at his own guilt ridden pathetic looking image long back. Now it was different, he felt relieved that he looked into his girl's eyes and told her the truth. He was proud of her. She was not judgemental and accuse him of cheating her mother. "We'll stand by amma..." Her words echoed in his mind. "What am I doing here? Whatever you came for is over. You don't belong here. They have their own life. You'll not be welcome to overstay. It is better you leave Arnav....leave things as they were...everything will be back to normal."  He splashed cold water on his face, but still the tears would not stop from flowing. He closed the pipe and looked around for the towel, it was not there. He had one in his bag, he remembered. He opened the door and Kushi was standing there leaning on the door with a towel in her hand. 

She closed the door quietly, and came towards him, "You've been crying?"she asked.

"No...no....I'm... Not.."he said. He took the towel from her and wiped his face. 

"I guess you and Aarushi talked...and you are disturbed by that...did she ...?"

"No...no..."he interrupted her hurriedly, "I mean...she didn't ....I mean she took it kind of easy."

"She has a bigger heart than mine ...I guess."she looked away guiltily.

"Kushi don't blame yourself even for a second for anything that had happened." He paused, looked uneasily at her and said, "Kushi... I ....I.....have to tell you something." She waited for him to continue. "I just realised... in all these years..."

"Sh...sh....shhhhh" she brought her fingers to his lips. He looked at her surprised. "We'll talk in the morning....it's been a couple of days since you have had a good sleep..."

"Kushi...just let me..."

She hugged him, "Let whatever was left unsaid remain unsaid, Arnavji...." she  said and leaned closer. "But this can't wait Kushi....I've already delayed it for too long." She placed her palm on his chest and felt his racing heart and lifted his hand and placed it on her chest and said, "My heart is beating so fast....." 

"I can feel it."he said.

"Yours too..." She whispered smilingly at him. 

He smiled, "What????Are you surprised that after all these years you still have the same effect on me?"

"So shouldn't we do something about it now."she whispered .

"Hmmmm...you have any plans?"

"Oh! There are plenty in store....wondering where to begin now?"

"Let me help you....How about, beginning from here?" He drew her to him. She smelt so good, he ran his fingers inside her luxurious silky hair, tilted her head gently and kissed her, a long, gentle, kiss that left them both breathless and happy. She looked  flushed, her skin shining and looked so radiant. He was hesitant, if a minute longer in her proximity, he wouldn't be able to control himself. She saw his eyes, saw the hesitation, "Why?" she whispered, then surged forward, plunged her hands inside his hair, pulled him forward and began kissing him and knocked him off his head. He stumbled and took a couple of steps  back to steady himself then grabbed her tightly preventing both from tumbling down. He pitched her against the wall, and now had both his hands free to ignite her passion more. She was an earthquake with heat within her, shooting fire all around her and he was consumed in her heat his brain fogged. And he was losing his last bit of control, when she began to rub seductively on him. "Kushi..."he moaned, then he looked at her, caught his breath and asked, "you  are where you want to be?"

"Exactly..... I never even  dreamed of being in your arms...." And she shivered, as he dropped her night gown to the floor and she melted like  an ice cube in the sun. "So soft...so pretty.." he mumbled against her skin. He laid her gently on the bed. The storm broke within her and he was caught at the centre of it. His rough hands were ever so gentle on her, awakened all the shivery little sensations within her once again, all those feeling, those sensations she thought she had forgotten.  She flowed and flowed along with it and drifted like a small feather in the wind. She caught hold of his  strong shoulders for as the needs, the greed for more ...burst within them. She gave in to him, her body became his...his for taking...as the riding sensations became one throbbing ache and she moaned his name in his ears as she let go. They lay there, all spent damp with sweat, as if resurrected, content and alive. He smiled  as she gave a huge sigh and snuggled closer to him. 



Mar 18, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 94 times)

Chapter-72

Suraj woke up with a start. He looked around his room in the dark and wiped his forehead off the sweat. After two days of reviews and meetings and collection and compiling of evidences and statements made by the witnesses, his mind was on nonstop mode of rewinding the incidents from the day he met Aarushi. He always thought that going through the events repeatedly in the mind will give better clarity and lessen the probability of missing the obvious. He didn't know he had dozed off to sleep and his subconscious mind was still playing the scenes in his mind's eye when he woke up. He now realised what he had missed seeing. He began to meticulously search noiselessly every nook and corner of his house. He was satisfied. He now had some places to visit and phone calls to make. He checked the time it was four in the morning and still dark. But his profession allowed access to places and people which would otherwise be an inconvenient hour for normal folk. He brushed, took a quick shower, dressed  and checked his phone while having a cup of hot coffee and biscuits and saw that Aarushi had called him several times last night and had then sent a message to call her back. It seemed ages since he had seen or talked to her properly but it's been only three days since Sandeep's death. He hadn't seen any of them after they had returned from the hotel back to their house. The police security was called off since twenty four hours. He'd call her later, he thought and set out.



Arnav was another soul who couldn't sleep. He was looking at the angelic face beside him. Isn't this what he had yearned for...for years, going to sleep ...with his hand holding hers and waking up every morning and see her curled up beside him? He gently removed a few strands of hair from her face and began to trace her features ever so gently with the tip of his finger. "I love you..Kushi..always." he whispered. His finger slowly traced the outline of her lips and next second, "ssss...what the...?" he yelped in pain as he checked her bite marks on his finger . She smiled, "What the...you...Arnav... that is for disturbing my beauty sleep."she said groggily. 

"That must be the eighth wonder...."he muttered, turning towards her.

"What is?" she mumbled.

"If one could disturb your beauty sleep."he said and threw away her covers and gathered her on top of him all in one single motion. She looked at him dreamily and laid her head on his chest and fell asleep. "Kushi.... Kushi?" Getting no response from her, he rolled her down on the bed again and looked st her in wonder. "Look at her...sleeping peacefully... Leaving me sleepless the whole night."he thought to himself and got up and  went to the wash room. He came out after an hour and she was sleeping still. He saw the morning light on her giving her face a new glow. Her hair splashed on the pillows the sheets just about covering her vitals, leaving her legs bare. The world's most prettiest woman couldn't be more ****ier than her...he thought as he slowly but reluctantly got dressed. She opened her eyes a bit as if she sensed his intense stare on her and smiled, he came  and sat near her and asked, "Nice dream? To bring a smile on your face?" 

She shook her head, curling nearer to him, "Those silver curls on your chest...."she stopped. He bent closer, "Yeah? Does it bother you?"

"Hell...no..." She pulled his face closer and whispered in his ear, "makes you even more ****ier." and began to kiss him. 

"Kushi....few more seconds if you continue like this, I have to dump all my plans for the morning and coop in beside you...naked." he pushed her back on the bed and got up reluctantly. 

Her eyes opened wide when she saw him looking fresh and fully dressed. "What time is it Arnavji?"

"Going to be six."he said.

"Hey Devi Mayya!"she sat up and quickly covered her self, "It is six? And you didn't wake me up? "She whispered.

"What's the hurry? And why are you whispering like this?" He asked, surprised, and bent and picked up her clothes for her.

"Arnavji....I don't want to embarrass myself in front of my kids....and Kush is leaving after breakfast..." she quickly dressed and got up to go.

"I know....I'm taking him to the airport..."Arnav said casually. Kushi stopped and looked at him, "You are?"she asked. He nodded. "I'm planning to call Suraj for lunch...you'll be back by then won't you?"she asked.

"Yeah.....yeah!"he said. She quietly let herself out and slowly walked towards the stairs.

Aarushi was another soul who was feeling restless the whole night. She so wanted to talk to Suraj. She called him and left a message asking him call her. She woke up early in the morning, brushed, washed her face and began to rearrange her clothes in her closet. She then saw a trinket and rings lying about in her draw. She opened another draw to put them inside when she saw the box which had all the cards and gifts given by Sandeep. She took it out and threw it in the trash. She didn't want any reminder of him adding to her already confused mind. Her hands were moving swiftly to match the speed of her mind. Arnav's story had disturbed her. She didn't know what to do with the information she had. Whether to talk to her mother about it? Should she interfere in this? Would it be right to force her mother to take a decision? What if she makes a decision for her sake and regrets it later? Oh hell! She didn't know whether to look upon Arnav as her father or a friend. But she would definitely miss him, now that she knew his relationship to her. She wanted to talk to Suraj about this, but he never picked up the phone. She thought she'll go and meet him at his home early in the morning. She changed her dress and gingerly stepped out of her room. It was quite early and thought that perhaps all the others were sleeping, and wondered whether she should wake her mother to inform her where she was going. She was at the head of the stairs when she saw Kushi closing the door of the down stairs room softly and tiptoeing towards the stairs with a grin on her face. Aarushi- didn't know why she did what she did - she traced her way back to her room quickly before her mother could see her. She leaned on her closed room door, "What was that?" She asked herself. "Did I just see amma coming from another room? By the way what was she doing downstairs?" She heard the sound of her mother in her room. She waited then peeped out again, then went downstairs straight to the kitchen and while making coffee her eyes were on the door of the room downstairs. After sometime she saw Arnav come out of the room. She realised then that he had shifted to downstairs room, now that Kushal was there. She smiled, remembering the scene that had happened a few minutes back.

"Good morning Arnavji!"she wished him,  "Looks like you've had a good night..." Arnav looked up surprised, "of sleep."

"Oh good morning Honey!  Of course  I had...You are up early?" he asked taking the paper in his hand and checking the headlines.

"Want some coffee? I'm going to have a cup."she asked.

"I'd love to..thank you. Black without sugar..."

"I know..." she said and few minutes later she handed him a cup. He took a sip, "Hmmmm... Lovely..."

She sat beside him. "Are you ......going somewhere?  I mean you are all dressed and ready." 

"Yeah....I'm taking Kush to the airport. He'll be leaving in an hour..." he said as he began to scan the pages in the news paper. "See...that's all the human attention span is…..the news about Sandeep Rai is hardly three days old and already it is relegated to third page with a paragraph in small print."

She smiled. "The sooner the people forget the better it is."

Kushi joined them a few minutes later. "I'm going to make allu puri ..let's all have breakfast together."

"I'll help you amma...are you going to the airport as well?"Aarushi asked, getting up to join her mother in the kitchen. "This is the wedding season Aarushi....  I have to  take care of the orders and not to forget the last minute demand...I have work up to my neck." Aarushi was listening to her mother happily ranting away about her work and the last minute hitches and what to do and how to cope with things. Kushi suddenly felt being hugged from behind. "I love you ...amma...I'm so happy for you." She said in a choking voice. "Aashi...what is it?" Kushi turned to face her child. She saw the tears and asked surprised, "Baby...what is it? Is everything okay?"

"Of course...."Aarushi replied, wiping away the tears. "It's just..."

Kushi looked at her, "Aashi...do you...in some way hold me responsible …. Do you feel I've denied you your father's love? I'm really... really sorry...I ..."she couldn't get the right words to say what she wanted to say.

"No amma....don't ever say that....you were there for me always and all this...?" She threw up her hands moving it around, "Well what more can I ask for?"

After a pause she said, "You love each other so much...yet... It's just that deep down in the corner of my heart I feel I was also the reason ...for your separation."

"Aarushi... You were just born that day...how could you be..."

"Probably things would have turned of differently..."

Kushi shook her head. "We'll never know....Aarushi... We'll never know. Our love is still alive only because I took the decision that day. If I hadn't...it would probably have burnt out....that's even worse...saving my marriage alone was not my priority.... I wanted to save the love I have for him...love is far more important than staying together and hating each other."

"Amma....my love and respect and adoration for you has grown to immeasurable height...I ...I...just love you for the person you are..."she hugged her again, "I want you to be happy...always."she whispered. She looked at her, held her face in her palms and asked , "Amma....you have such a big heart.....doesn't a wee bit part of it ever ask you to forgive him...give him one more chance?"

Kushi smiled, "Devi mayya hai na....she'll take care of everything."she turned and began to peel the potatoes. 

Arnav stood listening to them his eyes becoming wet. 

Mar 22, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 98 times)

Chapter-73

Kushal informed them that his plane was delayed by two hours. Aarushi left to meet Suraj. 

Suraj opened his eyes with much difficulty at the insistent ringing of the bell. He got up and went and opened the doors rubbing his eyes sleepily. "Hi....sleepy head..."came her bright voice, and burst out laughing, looking at him standing in his pajamas, which was printed with hearts and balloons and stars. "Nice pajamas..."

"My mom's choice ....you came all this way to laugh at my pajamas... "He said groggily and moved aside to let her in and closed the door. "I'll be back in ten minutes."he said and went to his room. She moved to the kitchen and began to prepare coffee. Her mind going back to the previous time when she was standing exactly in the same place a couple of months ago. She was waiting for the decoction to drip into the container below when she heard the voice behind, "Waiting for the coffee....to brew?"

"Yeah it is not fast enough..."

He took the milk packet from the fridge and she turned towards the cupboard to take out the cups, when she found herself castled once again, when he crowded in behind her locking her between his arms and the wall pushing her hair away from her neck "What have I done to deserve this?" he said huskily bending down to plant his mouth on her neck.

"Deserve what?"she asked, a little shiver coursing through her spine, as he bent and began to nuzzle his face in the crook of her neck.

"Me waking up and opening my eyes to see you standing outside my door so fresh ...so rosy and so bright... So...warm....hmmmm "he moaned taking in her scent.

She ran her hand over his hair still wet after the shower. "You smell good too!" she said tilting her head to allow his lips access to her neck and face. He  turned her, ran his thumb gently over her lower lip, "making me go crazy to do things I only dream of..." She blushed. "I missed you..." and with an urgency both went for each others lips. There was hunger and appea****t and blatant desire overpowered them. He moved closer,revelling on the sensations she was creating within him, their bodies touching wanting more. He finally withdrew and began to nibble at her lips. Those little pecks were delighting and pleasurable with the tough stubble pricking her soft lips. He moved his hand behind her back mumbling sweet nothings on her lips. He pushed aside the straps of her tank top away revealing her neck and shoulder bone. His mouth moved over her bare skin placing soft kisses as his head moved down. "Suraj..."his name came out in a hiss, "Hmmm...."

"Suraj...you can't .... Please stop..." her words came out with difficulty.

"I know...." his hand went to the hindering straps.

"Please...really....you can't..."

"I know...but I can't.... I just can't..."

"Suraj...stop...please." He straightened, "Breathe..."he muttered.

"I am breathing..."she said .

"No...I'm telling myself." He took  a few deep breaths and they looked at each other breathing unevenly their eyes glazed with passion. "Last time you were here you didn't want to stop...what happened in between?"his hands still caressing her back and neck.

"Last time....we were a bit over strung.... at a point of breaking....we needed a release... It is different now Suraj....we have to be a bit sensible don't you think?"

"I understand! "He said, looking at his shaking fingers. "Damn! What happened to me?

I used to be rock solid. This is a steady hand that has to hold a gun...."he thought.

"Suri..... I'm sorry....to disappoint you."she hugged him gently.

"I understand!"he said, moving away from her.

She looked at him, "One part of me thanks you and the other part of me wishes you weren't so...so...decent and gentlemanly."

" Yeah....."he smirked, as he pulled back her straps on her shoulders, "I'm decent as a rock."

"Suraj... I'm sorry.."she said softly.

"How about having that coffee now?"he asked, combing his hair with his hand with an evident display of frustration.

She nodded, waited for him to move. He went to the drawing room to bring his emotions under control. Few minutes later she came with the coffee cups and sat next to him. 

"What brings you here?" he asked. 

"Amma invited you for lunch...are you free today?"

"Yep...I was planning to go to Somapur... I can leave after lunch....will be back after two days."

"What's the occasion? " Aarushi asked. 

"My parents are going to Meenu's house to ask her hand in marriage...." he kept looking at her as her face turned pale, he sipped his coffee as he was eyeing her, her hand began to shiver, "to my brother, Ramesh."he smiled tongue in cheek. "What happened you don't want your coffee?" he asked seeing her place the cup on the tea table.

"No...if I hold it a second longer, I might drain it on your head just to see that smile wiped off from your face." She said angrily and got up and stood next to the window facing outside. "Aarushi...." he said cajolingly as he went behind her. 

He was about to turn her towards him, "Don't you dare touch me!"she said as if warning him. "Oh come on Honey....what are you ...so angry about?"he asked.

"I can see through all this pretense....Suraj Hegde....you were bloody taking me for a ride that day..."

"Literally speaking...I was taking you for a ride....to my home town...and your family joined you as well..."he said smiling.

"You were having fun at my expense....me crawling behind you..."she turned away red faced thinking about that day when she had done all she could to grab his attention.

"It was fun...honestly...to see you turn green...but it wasn't my fault..."

"Wasn't your fault....?Wasn't your fault?" She pushed him on the sofa. And he sat there looking at her towering over him with hands on hips, "What should one think when that girl goes all shy and coy when she saw you....you smiling and cooing to her and added to that your mom..." "My mom?"he asked confused.

"Your mom telling amma that she was just waiting for your nod..."

He laughed aloud and next instant she was sitting on top of him, "That was not funny .."she glared at him.

"Aarushi... Come on...yaar.."he brought his hands forward, and dropped them to his sides when he heard her growl, "Keep your hands off me!"

"Listen ..they are childhood sweethearts, a secret we cousins shared and we helped them disappear during outings. She wanted to graduate and earn and be independent so they waited before informing her parents. She was all coy because I was teasing her...it still isn't my fault if your imagination is running riot."he poked her forehead.

"You could have told me..."

"Honestly...it didn't cross my mind and Aarushi... Do you have any idea what you are doing to me now?"he asked, starring at her, remembering the night he saw her sitting on the edge of the bath tub with just a robe on her and how he had lost himself that very moment.

"Of course I know! And  I care a hoot for I'm going to enjoy every moment of extracting my revenge...hands off me..."she ordered as she began to punish  him with small soft kisses all over his face.

"Aarushi... Please...don't do this to me..." He groaned. "Okay...wait!.. Wait!" he said finding himself unable to control himself any longer. She smiled looking or rather feeling his discomfort. She leaned on his chest,"Suraj...actually I came to tell you something important...."she closed her eyes, "I found out recently that Arnavji is my biological father." She waited for his reaction . When none came, she raised her head and looked at him. "What??? You don't look surprised."

He smiled. "I guessed as much."

"You knew?"

He nodded, "I often wondered, what made him leave everything and come all this way from Delhi. Many times I caught him looking at you with love and concern...and your mom trusted him with your safety. Putting all this together... it wasn't very difficult to arrive at a conclusion."

She leaned back on his chest again, "Amma is very happy I guess...."

"Good for her!"he said and hugged her tighter. "I heard Rishi has started going to office and he would be giving the presentation soon."

"He won't."she said smiling smugly. "He won't?"he asked puzzled.

"What did you think? I work my ass off and I will gift my one year of  hard work in a platter and he walks away with it? No way.."

He narrowed his eyes and looked at her quizzically.

"Remember? You had confiscated our office computer ..."he nodded, "and told me a month later that you were releasing it as it did not hold any evidence to the shooting in the apartment. I told you I wanted to just check something regarding my project?"

"Yeah..."

"Well I made a copy of my project and then made subtle changes in the programs ..."

"And Rishab can't rectify them?"

"Nope....only Sandeep and I know the loop...Rishab is just a happy go lucky guy....he just back peddles and is riding on our hard work.. he will not know a thing about the program..."

"That's kind of mean..."

"Well I do have a mean streak in me. And I can be very ....very mean sometimes..."

"I know..."he said glumly.

She smiled, "Well...didn't I tell you I take advantage of other's weaknesses..... well Rishab was happy as long as I was squeezing my brains over this full time...now their one option is to call me back...."she rubbed his hand that came to grip her hip, absent mindedly " which I doubt because that VP's ego is two times his big fat pot belly and if they do call me I'll definitely raise my stakes which will not be profitable for them."

"What are you... going to do with that project in your hand?"

"I'm planning to directly contact "Epic Medical Solutions" or with the help of  Arnavji.....he has contacts at high places... I'll start my own."

"Wow!  Once you become a great entrepreneur you'll hardly have time to cater to the needs of this humble policeman madam....so now is the best time as ever."

"Suraj..."she said holding his face in her palms, "thank you...."

"For what? I've only given you a glimpse of what to be expected when the time comes."he said smiling.

She shook her head smiling, "I was scared you'll be disturbed when you came to know about my real father...though I find now my fears were unfounded."

"Is that why you stopped me a few minutes earlier?"he asked. She nodded, "I was genuinely worried how you'll react.."

"Well...there should be a cause to worry...you see I'm not that decent or a gentleman especially when it comes to you...with you in my arms like this...I've been fantasising and imagining what it be like to hold you like this....and ..."his lips were already devouring her's, "imaginations are not anywhere near reality."

She interrupted shyly, "Well you were not the only one fantasising what it would be like to be loved by you...."

"Sweetheart... Allow me to show you my imaginations then let's compare notes."he whispered. "I'd love to...but.." slowly but reluctantly she tried to move away fro him, "Amma will be waiting for us...we have to go."

He let go of her after few minutes and half an hour later they were on their way to her house.



Mar 27, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 96 times)

Chapter-74

Arnav was driving Kushal to the airport. Few minutes later when they had reached the highway Kushal turned to him, "Arnav sir....I could have called a taxi...why take all this trouble...." he asked surprised.

"I just wanted to drive ..."he shrugged.

"But why this rental car?"

When there was no response coming, he glanced at Arnav, "Are  you planning to go somewhere?" he asked curious.

""To Mumbai....then fly to Delhi from there."Arnav said quietly. Kush turned  and looked at him surprised, "Drive to Mumbai....? You are planning to leave?" Arnav simply nodded. "Amma..di..nobody mentioned... I thought..you were dropping me..at the airport."

"I didn't tell them.."Arnav said.

"What? Why?" Asked Kush. "Oh! Any emergency cropped up there? When will you be  coming back?"

Arnav smiled, "I'm leaving Kush...returning to Delhi for good...I didn't tell them my plans..."

"Oh...! "Kush turned away without finishing what he wanted to say.

"Kush..."he turned, "you are a very responsible boy...I needn't tell all this ...yet...I wanted to tell you ...take good care of your mom and sister....and anything you need...I'm always there for you."

"Thank you.... sir...Arnavji..."he stuttered embarrassed, "I....I.."he turned away.

Arnav laughed, "You can call me anything you feel like...it is not going to change anything."

Kush nodded, "Di told me everything.... If di has accepted you....why shouldn't I?"he paused, "why are you leaving? Amma was really happy the past few days...especially after she had told us about her past. I thought things were sorted out between you two...then what happened?"

Arnav said, "Nothing...My staying here is not so simple as it looks on surface. There has to be lot of adjustments and compromises to be made. You three have your own life...., why throw a stone on the tranquil water and cause ripples." "Can't you forgive him....give him just one more more chance?"Aarushi's voice echoed in his head, like a school kid with a thumping heart he was waiting to hear Kushi's reply and when none what he wanted to hear came turned away disappointed and decided then it was time for him to leave.

Seeing him very pensive, "Is it because of me you are leaving?"asked Kush his forehead creasing in worry.

He slowly brought the car to a stop on the sides of the road, then turned to look at him,

"Kush....both Kushi and I were orphaned at a very early age, we know what it is to grow up without a mother....It would pain Kushi to even think of a life without you..I don't want that either..."

"But..Arnavji... What about di?" he was not ready to give up on him.

"I'll be there Kush...for all of you always....we can go on holidays together...when time permits you can all visit Delhi....I'll come down here..when ever I'm free...you see we can all be happy this way.."

"I guess we are amongst the luckiest few...to have people like you, Amma and my dad of course...."said Kushal wit sincerity in his voice.

Arnav patted his hand softly, "Of course your dad.." He started the car.

They reached a fork in the highway, where they had to take left for airport when Kush suddenly said, "Go straight Arnavji!"

"What???? airport...is this side ..."

"I'll drive along with you till Mumbai."said Kush excitedly. Arnav swirled the car to the right and asked, "Are you sure Kush? It is a long drive." Asked Arnav slowing down, in case he changed his mind.

"But with both of us driving.....it will be less tiresome."he smiled.

"That's indeed a good idea. Let's go." After few minutes Kush pointed out the huge board that read, ANANYA- HOME FOR THE AGED. And below it read, Managed by KS Institutions. "You have to take the next exit to reach that town."he said.

"Let's go there, I want to have a look."Arnav said as an afterthought.

Few minutes later after taking some winding roads inside the town, they were in front  of a massive gate. The guards opened the gates as soon as they saw Kushal. Arnav drove in and parked the car. 

"This stands in five acres of land."said Kushal. "Impressive !"said Arnav and looked around in awe. Two staffers came running towards them. Kushal introduced them to Arnav and told them he had just come to show around and that he'd manage it himself. They left. He first took him to a first huge three storied building, 'Ahalya'. He saw many  old women walking around, some watering the plants,some seated under the shades of trees. "This is for old women...it's almost like a hostel...single, double, triple rooms. They have separate kitchens for veg and non-veg. Many able women engage themselves in various activities. Some tend to garden, some help in the kitchen, there is a committee, both men and women combined who take care of temples and prayers, bhajans, satsangh etc. We call artists, from outside to perform during festivals. There is no dearth for social activities." They reached a similar building, 'Shivam' for men. He pointed out a five storey apartment building for old age couples. Arnav found that the inmates need not depend on anybody from outside, the entire complex was self sufficient. Then they came to the most important part of the home, the hospital. That part of the complex was buzzing with activity, with the ambulances coming and going, doctors ,nurses and ward boys and cleaning staff and security all seemed to be busy. They reached the glass door entrance. As soon as they opened it, Arnav saw a bronze bust of Karan Sinha on the pedestal. He saw a huge board with the list of visiting doctors, resident doctors, retired doctors who extended their services to the needy, painted on it. There was a glass shelf which held trophies and plates and memorabilia and one wall was adorned with photos of Karan with top leaders and politicians in various award functions in recognition of his philanthropy. He looked around and saw that the nurses, peons, ward boys, cleaning staff were all so polite and talking softly to the patients. Some had taken some old people for a walk outside, some were in the wheelchairs. He saw many placards requesting visitors to be charitable, and be kind enough to give back to the society. Arnav highly impressed and touched by the great work and humongous effort put in by this good hearted man, took out his cheque book and wrote a donation of five lakh rupees and handed it over to Kushal. He looked at Arnav wide eyed and then took him to meet the Dean and asked him to hand it over himself. They had coffee and the Dean elaborated on their work in that area. They came out Kushal looked at the time, "Arnavji, let's have lunch, you have to check out our canteen.....food is really good....."

"With Kushi around...could it be any less?"he asked smiling.



Aarushi parked the car in the garage and along with Suraj entered the side corridor and entered her home through the kitchen. It was absolutely silent inside. Then Honeybee came thudding down the stairs. "Amma...?"Aarushi called softly, rubbing Bee. There was no response , they looked at each other and Aarushi walked forward looking towards the dining hall. "Aarushi ....wait!"he whispered. 

Aarushi froze, "What is it Suraj?" She asked fear gripping her. "I just thought...that what if we are intruding their privacy?"

Aarushi heaved a sigh of relief, and punched him playfully in his gut and said, "Oh just shut up! You scared me. Amma...? Where are you?"calling she entered the drawing room through the dining. She saw her sitting in the rocking chair and rocking slowly, her thoughts far far away from there. "Amma? Didn't you hear me calling you? What happened amma?" She asked looking at her worried face . "He's gone." she said softly.

Suraj was generally looking around, listening to them at the same time. "Who is gone?"Aarushi asked. "Arnavji....he left ..."

"No amma...he has gone to the airport...he'll be back soon."she said reassuringly.

"He has taken his bags and gone without even a word... I thought....I thought...."her voice drowned away. "How better could I have expressed my feelings to him last night...I thought he had understood me...yet..."she thought starring at nothing. "Why? Arnavji... Why?"her heart cried. 

"Amma....I'll call and talk to him...okay..he won't go anywhere..."she called him. He didn't answer. Suraj came near them, "Hello...mam..."he said when there was no response he looked at Aarushi questioningly.

"Amma...Suraj...is here for lunch and he is leaving for Somapur.."she said. 

Kushi finally, reacted and said, "Oh yeah! Hello Suraj! Sorry...I was kind of preoccupied... I didn't..."

"It's okay mam...Sir will come back soon..don't you worry."he said.

Kushi tried very hard to even have a normal conversation with them. Her disappointment was profound. Aarushi could sense her mother's feelings and with Suraj there she was feeling helpless. Suraj felt like an intruder. He ate his food quickly in order to give the mother and daughter some time to themselves. 

Aarushi tried Kushal's number then cut it mid way thinking he would be inside the plane and called Arnav again and it went to voice message. Suraj called for a taxi and asked them to take care and left. 

Aarushi helped her mother clean up and then said to her, "Amma...don't worry....everything will be all right...." Kushi nodded then said, "I'm feeling very tired....I'll take a nap then in the evening again I have go to check if all the orders have been dispatched." Aarushi nodded. She went to her room changed into a sleeveless cotton shirt and shorts and surfed the TV channels, finding nothing interesting she  took out her phone and called Arnav once again. She became worried when there was no answer from the other end. "Is amma right then? Has he left and thats why he is refusing to answer the phone? But why? Didn't I see her coming out of his room? I thought they had finally solved their differences ..." Confused she sat starring at her phone when she heard Bee barking loudly. 

She smiled, "There! He is here." She pocketed the phone, wondering why he hadn't rung the doorbell. She left her room,  came downstairs and  saw Bee standing near the door barking and growling. "What is it Bee? Do you want to go out? Okay come here."she usually took her through the back door. "Quiet! Amma is sleeping don't make noise now. That's like a good girl." Bee took two steps behind her then again went back to the front door growling. Aarushi looked at her puzzled then went and opened the door, Bee shot through the door like a bullet. 

She went behind her out to the garden. She looked around for Ramu kakka. Bee had stopped barking. She guessed, the gardener had taken her outside, and began to relax. A slight cool breeze was blowing across and she took a walk around the garden. "It's been days since I've tended these plants.."she thought as she tenderly caressed the multi coloured Dahlias. She crossed the plush green lawn and sat on the bench under the trees, pocketed her phone, leaned her head on the head rest of the bench and closed her eyes. Her mind automatically recollected  the kiss, assertive and demanding but tender and giving, probing and at the same time waiting for her equal response, she sighed as butterflies began to flutter below her stomach, her nerves tingled just thinking about the way his hands caressed her, she smiled happily, only it didn't last long.

"Aarushi.... baby....come to papa...." came the blood curdling husky whisper near her ears. An icy chill ran across her , freezing her body to the bones. She couldn't move, but managed to jerk open her eyes and starred right into the cold greenish grey eyes, just above her.



Mar 31, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 87 times)

Chapter-75

Aarushi for a moment didn't understand whether she was dreaming or awake. She simply opened her eyes wide, her brain refusing to comprehend what her eyes were seeing. She was  starring into an all too familiar pair of eyes but yet the face that belonged to it looked different. She blinked her eyes shut, hoping the image would fade away. But to her horror the image smiled, whispering, "Aarushi .... Not a sound..."and laid his hands on her shoulders, a steel glinted in the sunlight. She jerked upright, and turned slowly. "No...it couldn't be...he is dead...it is not him..."she was telling her mind, as her eyes took in his appearance. He was completely bald, eyebrowless and, one hand held a sharp knife,  he looked horrible. Gone was that handsome pleasant face. Who is he? She wondered. 

"Sandeep?"she whispered.

"Here I am..."he placed the knife on her throat. She began to shiver as fear gripped her.

"You are alive? No...no..you can't be..."she croaked. She had seen him die right in front of her eyes , he just cannot be alive. "Oh yeah! You thought I was dead and two days later to celebrate my demise you were ready to spread your legs to that police man...you ****."he said. She turned away in disgust.

"Get up....slowly..." he muttered angrily. She did as she was told, her hands slowly making sure her phone was in the pocket. He came behind her , pulling her hands behind her back, grabbing her wrists with one hand, while the other held the knife on her throat. "You know what I'm capable of....don't make a sound...did you understand." He muttered in her ears. She closed her eyes in fear and nodded. "Don't panic...Aarushi.... Do not panic....talk...talk...talk to him...buy time...your phone is with you..."she was telling herself.

"Sandeep? Who was that in the hospital then?"she asked.

"My twin Rajdeep."he laughed. 

"Your brother?" She said in disbelief. "Then was it him who had treatment when he was young?"

"Yes! And I loved him…..Aarushi I loved him....and I had to kill him because of you ...you f******** b*****."he seethed in anger.

"Sandeep I'll not make any noise, please leave my hands I promise you."

He released her hands but his knife was still on her throat. She rubbed  her wrists and slowly turned to look at him. 

"Why...Sandhu? Why?"she asked softly, "Why all these? We were friends remember? You could have talked to us...we surely would have helped you."

"Shut up! Just shut up! Friends are only friends not when they turn enemies. I did not interfere in your life....because I respected your dad. You should have left me alone. But you wanted to prove you are a smart ass, didn't you? You wanted to head the project, get all the name and fame for yourself. You think I didn't know about you? You conniving ****."he shouted. "Make him talk....amma might wake up...she might get help...keep talking..."she thought.

"Riya was scared...I wanted only to help her. Riya was our friend...Sandhu how could you do this to her?"

"It was her fault she went running to you. And what did you do? You went complaining to the higher ups....against me...you highhanded them...insisted that they send me away or that you'll resign...you scared them into taking a decision against me...scared that they'll be branded as ****ist... What else did you do? Did you do them any special favours...to toe your line?"

"You know it was not true. Since Riya did not complain...I complained on her behalf."

"Liar....you cheap women....you are all exhibitionist...ready to show off your wares...to make the men follow you with tongues out. Didn't you do just that with that policeman?"he said with disgust. "I couldn't touch that policeman... Because I didn't want the whole police force behind me...I got back at him by getting his dog...Raja enjoyed to the hilt....it was such fun..."he said grinning, and Aarushi thought he looked even more frightening. 

"Why did you have to kill a poor animal, Sandeep?"she asked.

"Because he was trying to lure you with his dog..."he said.

"He did nothing..."realisation struck her, she gasped, "Honey bee...where is Bee?  What did you do to her...you ****...where is she?"she cried and tried to run away from him, when he pushed her hard on the concrete tiles, Aarushi went flying across the ground, falling few feet away from him. She cried out in pain as she s****ed her skin from her elbow and knee and pain shot through them. Her phone flew out from the pocket and luckily she covered it with  her hand. With her head to the ground she pretended as if she was crying , while she brought her phone alive, immediately, switched off the ring tone, she didn't want it to ring at an inopportune moment and lose the only armour she had on her. She opened the call log, Arnav's name was on the top she pressed the message button, when she heard him behind him. "On your feet...you b****” She got up slowly, covering her phone with her palm and pocketing it while she was dusting her shorts.

"Please...tell me where is Honey bee?"she pleaded.

"Oh both she and the old man will sleep for few hours...don't worry by that time I'll be done with you..."he laughed. She looked stunned, 

"Why did you shoot Rishab, Sandhu?"

"The plan was to kill both of you...I instructed my brother to use only two shots... expecting both of you to be in bed together....everything went haywire from there. But we always had plan 'B' to fall back upon."

"Did you have to kill Riya for that.... she was our friend Sandhu....you had tortured her for days then murdered her.....for that matter do you have an answer for all those people?" "Keep talking!"

He grabbed her shirt and pulled her hard towards him, "Do you know what it is to go hungry for days, eat rotten fruits and vegetables thrown to the animals by the venders....hide in the forests, to be bitten by insects...haan? What would you know about all that ..... you daddy's girl....with all this... Just to splurge daddy's money...."

"But still that..."

He shook her, "What would you know ....about being abused at a tender age of fourteen...lift my shirt..."he said menacingly.

"What???"she shouted. "You heard me....do it!"he shook her.

She slowly lifted his shirt and gasped and turned her face away in horror. There were reddish streaks, crisscross scars all over the front of his body. "What????can't stomach seeing this even....then I guess you can't even imagine the pain we had suffered in the hands of my father."

"Your mother? Didn't she do anything about it?"she asked her voice laced with pity.

"My mother? She kept quiet....you know why? She didn't want to leave my father...because she loved him...she loved him...bull****...what kind of love is that? To be abandoned for another woman, to see one's own children being abused....well....we gave back to her what she deserved.... didn't spare her as well..."he smiled wickedly. She looked at him confused.

"We killed him...one day he came with his belt..we were ready for him, pulled the belt and strangled him, we saw him thrashing his hands and legs then finally his eyes pleading to let him go...Raja was laughing and I .... felt nothing. We waited with the body. When the other woman was fast asleep, we laid him next to her and waited for her to wake up just to see her reaction. She didn't disappoint us."he chuckled. "We threatened her, that we'd go to police that she murdered our father, that **** got a certificate from the hospital that he suffered a heart attack. Then killing became very easy for us. I was the brain and he had the brawn. Our mother knew all along what we were up to....but she couldn't .... in fact she was scared to open her mouth against us to anybody. That was her punishment, for putting us through that hell." he said with pure hatred in his voice. "I thought you really loved your mother and that you were taking good care of her and you refused onsite offers because you didn't want to leave her alone here."said Aarushi.

"She was my cover...I had to take care of Raja...and made it my responsibility to fill in all the juicy details of every killing to her and made sure she suffered ten times more than we did....even now I know she can understand every word I say..."

Aarushi looked at him, "Sandhu...she is your mother....how could you?" she said incredulously.

"Mother? A mother is supposed to protect her children, not expose them to physical and mental abuse by her husband and the **** and her brother he brought  home. She knew what they were doing to my brother yet she did nothing....nothing..." She kept looking at him. "I took matters in my hands, I began to follow my uncle and knew how he worked...and protected Raja from him. I made him run away to the forests and hide, he learnt to climb trees and rocks, walk like a cat and attack like a beast. Then our only option was to do away with the two unwanted visitors in our house."

"After many years, I went back....managed to access all records, change names and photos...throw money here and there....nobody really cares about fifteen year old records.... things went on smoothly..."he said with chagrin,  "until you came to mess up with me."  His smile disappeared and starred at her angrily.

"You are right, Sandeep... I can't... I guess no one can even imagine what you've been through....but all those killings doesn't make all the wrongs right...please listen to me....

"Stop preaching me...now go inside your house."he turned her and pushed her towards the door opening to the kitchen. "What are you going to do to me?"she asked , fear gripping her. 

"You don't understand baby....I'm not going to do anything to you..."he closed the door and smiled wickedly at her.





Apr 3, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 83 times)

Chapter-76

Arnav began to have second thoughts about seeing the facilities inside the hospital and his suggestion to see Sandeep's mother while they were there. He felt uncomfortable and it squeezed his heart when he  saw old people, looking forlorn and lonely, some very sick, with tubes running from their bodies to the beeping monitors, some were lying still just wrinkled skin over their shrinking bones, some were looking lost, just starring at nothing in particular, as if counting the  number of days to be lived on this Earth. Finally he reached Rai's mother's bed. An old lady, eyes sunken, skin dry and wrinkled, cracked lips, was sitting on the edge of her bed and a young nurse who was tending to her asked them, "Have you come to see her?" They nodded, Kush went near her and asked, "Aunty....how are you feeling today? Aunty can you hear me?" The nurse smiled, "She doesn't respond....we won't even know whether she'll hear anything we say to her."

"How do you communicate with her?"asked Arnav. 

"It is all one way communication... We keep talking and take care of her...she hardly even knows what is being done to her." Said the nurse, who was combing her hair gently. "How many years she's been like this?"Arnav asked Kush.

Kush shrugged, "This is the first time I'm seeing her."

The nurse said, "I've been here for the past two years...and she's been like this ever since I've been here."she said. "But Kamakshi didi might know...shall I call her?" the nurse volunteered and moved from there. Arnav, looked at her, she looked like the woman in those photos, Suraj had showed him, but obviously much older now, he thought. There was a small side table near the bed, which had a jug of water and a glass and a tray of medicines.

Few minutes later a middle aged lady came and wished them. "How many years she's been like this?" Kushal asked her. 

"For the past six years sir, when she came here nearly ten years ago, it was just the beginning stage of Alzheimer's... she  deteriorated pretty fast."

"Has she ever talked about her family?"

"Not a word...she never said anything to anybody."

"Does her son visit her often?"asked Arnav. "Does she even know now what has happened to him?"

"I don't think it will register, even if we tell her about him. I'd say it is all for good...for she was never happy  when they come visiting and often she sat clutching a photo starring at it and cried till she became sick...and one day she tore the photo to pieces and that's it...she stopped talking after that..."

Arnav looked at the pitiable  sick woman for a moment, then turned to Kush, "Let's leave." Kush nodded and both turned towards the door, when Arnav stopped, slowly turned and looked at the old nurse, "What did you just say?"

A minute later Arnav was running like a mad man to the car park,with Kush behind him calling out to him. "Arnavji....what happened?"

"Kush...you drive ...as fast as you can...back to your house...I have to make phone calls.."he tossed the key to him and quickly sat inside. He was already calling Aarushi.  "Pick up the phone..."he muttered to himself. Kushal was beside himself, looking at Arnav's strange behaviour. He called Kushi who didn't answer as well. Furious, he called Suraj. "Hello...Arnav sir..where are you? Aarushi and her mother are worried about you?"

"Suraj...listen I'm just out of the old age institution... I just learned the fact from the nurse..."

"So you know?"came Suraj's quiet voice.

"What the...? What do you mean you know? Wait a minute...you knew about this all this while?"asked Arnav surprised.

"Will somebody tell me what it is you are talking about?"shouted Kush.

Arnav gestured him to concentrate on the road, and said to Suraj, "And you didn't care to tell us about it?"

"I figured it out just yesterday.... And when I went to their house...I was surprised you were not there...well you didn't tell us about your plans as well..."he said.

"We are talking about their safety dammit..." Arnav shouted, "and she is not picking up the phone."

"I've made all arrangements.. Sir, there are policemen... Plainclothesmen..all around the house watching, them...don't worry...they haven't reported anything yet. Anyway, I'll call them and give you an update... I'll call Kushi mam as well."

Arnav cut the call and called both of them again no answer. "At least now tell me..."said Kush, unable to bear the suspense.

"When we were talking to the victims and witnesses, we were often confused whether they were talking about the person we all knew or someone else. Often Aarushi used to argue that it was someone else and not Sandeep behind the murders..."

"Arnavji...it is still Greek and Latin to me..."

"Didn't you hear what the nurse said...her sons come visiting her..."

"So..."he paused, then exclaimed, "oh my God! You mean...there is another son..."

"Exactly! And he is alive...now once you enter the city take all the short cuts you know and make it fast to your house..." Kush was hardly listening to him. He was driving the car as if it was on fire.

Suraj called the policeman in front of Aarushi's house, "Hari...all okay?"

"Sir, the ladies are inside the house sir...no visitors... Except an old man who came to meet the gardener...  an hour ago..."

"Okay...be on alert..." Suraj cut the call and called Aarushi when he didn't receive any answer, he called Kushi. He was about to cut the call when she answered, "Hello! Suraj?" "Mam...just called to check if you are all okay...where is Aarushi?"he asked. 

"I just woke up beta...let me check her room,"not finding her there she told him,

 "She must be in the garden playing with Bee...shall I call her..."Kushi asked.

"No...no mam...listen, keep this phone always beside you and..."

"What is it Suraj?" Kushi asked her eyes stills watching for Aarushi.

"Just for safety sake...keep something handy..."

"Suraj...you are scaring me...what is it?"she asked quickly going to the kitchen.

"Just keep some instrument  something heavy near you...mam...hello? Hello?" He cut the call and called her again, this time the phone kept ringing.

Kushi stifled a scream and stood in a shock, when she saw her daughter, bleeding from scratches on her knees and hands, a knife on her throat, pushed forward by a man behind her. "Aarushi???"she tried to move forward.

"Don't..."Said Sandeep. "Give me that phone!" Aarushi was praying he wouldn't turn his attention to her phone, which she felt had been constantly ringing for sometime. She had to distract him. "Amma I'm fine...nothing is wrong.... amma it is just few scratches here and there..." Sandeep grabbed the phone from her and threw it on the ground. It broke to pieces. Kushi closed her eyes as fear gripped her. "Go bring the car keys...remember don't make me do what you don't want to see..."

Kushi ran and within seconds handed over the keys to him, "Listen..please don't do anything ...please..."she pleaded. Sandeep looked at Aarushi, gave her the keys, grabbed Kushi, and kept the knife on her throat. "You drive the car...."

"Where are you taking us? Sandhu...it is me you want....leave my mother out of this...please." Aarushi refused to move. He pressed the knife harder, Kushi closed her eyes. "No...Sandeep... Please leave her!"pleaded Aarushi.

Sandeep laughed, "You still don't get it baby....and I thought you were a smartass...you are going to enjoy ....me having real fun with your mother." Kushi's eyes widened in fear. Aarushi's blood froze, when she saw his wicked grin, which turned to a scowl and he grunted, "Now....move!"

 

Suraj called the policeman again, "Hari... That old man you said....has he left..?"he asked. He could hear him talking to the other men, "sir ..we didn't see him leaving..."

"Describe him to me." said Suraj desperately, praying to the Almighty that they hadn't bungled up again. "Sir, we couldn't see his face he had a baseball cap on and grey hair underneath it, tall guy slightly hunched back, wearing loose clothes...."

"That could only be him...When did you say the old man entered the gates ?"

"Sir nearly an hour ago and Mrs.Sinha is still inside the house....Aarushi has left in her car...say ten minutes back ...Anwar is following her.."

Aarushi was following his instructions, Kushi was sitting right behind her, too petrified to do anything, Sandeep was sitting beside Kushi to her left, with a knife pointed at her. Aarushi was slowly weaving through the traffic, her right hand slowly moving to her pocket. She slid her fingers inside and brought her phone alive. She  tapped the buttons and she hoped she had sent a message and Arnav would read it.

Arnav who was going berserk listening to Suraj telling him what had happened, stopped mid way to read a message that popped up on his phone. He cut the call.

"Aarushi's message...what the...?" He frowned.

 "What does it say?" asked Kushal. "Where shall I go now we have entered the city?"he asked.

"It doesn't make any sense...sr hav us vivkanda rd...what is this?"he read the message loudly to Kushal. 

Kushal made an abrupt u-turn making the other cars behind him honk loudly, "Vivekananda road....she is there...sr..is Sandeep Rai..."



Apr 7, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 105 times)

Chapter-77

"Genius!" exclaimed Arnav looking at the message. "She managed to text me???How???" He was so proud of his girl. "Bravo! My girl!"he thought then he immediately called Suraj, "Aarushi messaged me just now, she is in..."

"Vivekananda road.. my men were following her but lost her near Gandhi market...I've already asked the service provider to locate her ...we'll keep in touch with each other on her location."Suraj cut the call.

Arnav looked at his phone again willing it to come alive with a message. "Kushi....don't do anything silly and get into trouble...Aarushi has a cool head over her shoulders...don't do anything that warrants drastic action... Kushi..."he was worried that Kushi would take matters into her hands that might compromise their safety.

His phone beeped. "Pavbaji shp....to neruprk' confused Arnav read the message loudly to Kush, "I guessed right that she'll take that road...she is near Nehru Park..."he took side lanes to avoid traffic signals. Arnav passed the message to Suraj. "Got it...." He said.



Evening traffic was growing by a minute that Aarushi couldn't take her hands off her wheel and she couldn't message further. She prayed that all those hours of working on the keyboard would not let her down now. She knew the roads like the back of her hand so didn't concentrate too much on her driving but she hoped and prayed that she had sent a coherent message and somebody would come to save them. She began to worry if anybody knew about their situation. What if Suraj had already left for his town, and Arnavji and Kushal were in the plane flying away from there? She avoided looking at her mother for she didn't want to see the panic in her eyes. It would be hours before anybody knew they were missing. She looked at Sandeep with a smug look on his face, satisfied that things were going according to his plans. He was not going to let them live at the end of it all. So she thought that the best option available was to delay whatever he was planning to do to them by making him talk, by acting as if she was terrified though she needn't put much effort into that, instead of being brave. "Let him get complacent that we were scared and we wouldn't do anything stupid. By then she might think of something."she thought. 

Kushi had only few words repeating in her mind, "Raksha karna...devi mayya raksha karns....Arnavji..where are you? Didn't you promise that you'll be there for us? Devi mayya..."

"Where are you taking us?" Aarushi asked. They had reached a remote part of the city.

"Just drive...you'll know when you reach there....take right....and second left after the signal..."

"Why Riya, Sandeep?" She asked tentatively. "Make him talk...don't panic."she said to herself. 

"I needed a cover a ruse ....you see the last person on your suspect list would be the one  with a family and a kid or two later. Oh that loser....! Sandhu...I'll do whatever you ask me to..."he imitated her. "She should have trusted me...believed me when I told her I'll take care of her mother as well...she preferred to listen to you rather..."the anger was back in his voice, "Turn left and go straight....last house...stop here."

Aarushi stopped and looked around. It was a quiet, affluent neighborhood, hardly anybody seen outside. Looked like people if they were there, preferred to stay indoors in the comfort of their AC rooms rather than come out on the hot sultry evening. 

"Quietly walk in...I don't want any drama outside...always remember I have nothing to lose....and I'll not have any second thoughts about taking your lives." he said in a warning tone. Kushi nodded and got down. He opened his door and came around the car. Aarushi delayed some more minutes, by slowly locking the doors, taking out the keys checking if everything was okay and then stepped out. They crossed the front yard of the house, both the women's eyes roaming around, looking for something that would come in handy. A stick, a crow bar, something?? But they found nothing. 

They entered the well furnished house. A huge drawing room with sofas and a  phone stand in the corner. "Who's house is this?" she asked him. He pushed Kushi in one of the sofas and then looked at Aarushi, "It's one of my friend's...his old mother lives here...one stubborn old hag..took some time removing her..."he said as if he didn't care  a thing in the world. "Removed???" She looked around and her face went pale when she saw red stains on the wall and on the floor. "Is that.....blood?" she asked terrified. "What have you done to her?" 

"That doesn't concern you anyways. I'm going to have some coffee." He walked towards the flask on the table. He has definitely believed her petrified look for he was so sure they were beyond thinking anything against him that he left them free without binding their hands. When he turned his back, Aarushi gestured with her hands that everything will be fine and slowly tapped her pocket indicating the phone. Kushi acknowledged with a nod. He came back with a cup in his hand and then said to her indicating the blood stains "I am going to ask you to clean this mess here..."

"Me...? You want me to clean this? How could I ...?" She started, when a resounding slap echoed in that room. Her lower lip split and it began to bleed. "Aashi..." Kushi cried out loud. "Shut up!"he yelled, then turned to Aarushi, "Who do you think you are? You think it is so demeaning to scrub floors...."

"No it is never demeaning to do any honest work, I only wanted to tell you...I couldn't just clean it with water I need cleaning liquids and mops...shall I go and check..." tears were pouring down her cheeks, he was thoroughly annoyed with her dumb, terrified act. "Oh come on.... you ****..don't start that crying now for God's sake...I thought you had little more gumption than that loser Riya....but you are all the same...losers..."

She quickly went to the kitchen and checked the cupboards, for something sharp to hurt him. A knife, a blunt instrument ...something. But there was nothing only an insect repellant was there, but she couldn't hide it anywhere. She went outside with a bucket in hand. "I need soap...I'll get it from the bathroom." He pointed towards the toilet and she went slowly. Kushi's worried eyes were following her,  not understanding what she had in mind. Aarushi went inside the bathroom and whatever liquid soap, acids were there she mixed it in the water in the bucket and took a mop and began to clean the floor.

"We've got her location....Kush take the MG road....I'll message the address....I'm on my way..." Suraj was talking so fast.

"How long will it take from here Kush?"Arnav was impatient.

 "Fifteen kilometers another fifteen minutes if we are fast.."said Kush.

"Then make it in five minutes...we'll explain later if a cop pulls us"

"Arnav Sir..I've already deployed the forces there. They are swarming the area. I'll join you there soon." 

Arnav and Kush reached the area and were stopped by the police. Both of them rushed out, one of the men recognized Kush and said, "SP sir's orders...you can't go further." 

"Like the hell I can't... My girl is in trouble there..." he tried to push his restraining hands and move forward, when a car stopped behind them and Suraj got out. "Kush...Arnavji..come here..."he showed the map on his phone. "Listen carefully.... This is the house...my men have located her car outside...we are going to ask the neighbours to move out for few hours. Kush take this..."he gave him a small pistol. Kush gasped "Sir...I don't know..."

"I know.... it is for your safety...at least you can threaten to shoot....? Arnav sir have this one on you.."he gave him a sharp knife. Arnav took it, looked at it apprehensively, then a thought of his women suffering in the hands of a murderer came to his mind, he silently inserted the sharp knife inside his sock, thinking, "I'll get you both back....I'll get you both back safely...at any cost." He then looked at Suraj and said, "Tell us Suraj.....we are ready...let's go and kick that **** to pulp..."



Sandeep laughed aloud looking at the picture Aarushi created in front of him. She was cleaning the floor with a mop in her hand, wearing shorts that just covered her behind, showing miles of smooth legs below it. Dried blotches of blood on her knees and hands, hair blown all over her face, lips broken and bleeding, her eye puffed up and cheeks swollen, he turned to Kushi, "You see...this is what your brainless daughter is good at...."even before he could finish, Aarushi threw the bucket of soap water on him. Sandeep was thrown back few steps when the bucket came flying on him. "You ****....you..."one hand was rubbing his burning eyes. Aarushi was praying that his eyes should burn till they are blind so that they could escape. But that was not to be. She tried to give one hard kick on his crotch, but her leg slipped on the soap water and she went crashing on him. "Amma..." She shouted when with the other hand he caught hold of her hair and pulled it hard making it difficult for her to move. Kushi came running towards them, to save Aarushi from his grasp. He let go of her, and kicked Kushi so hard, that she went skidding on the soapy floor, her head hit the leg of the table and she fainted. "Amma..."screamed Aarushi, tears now pouring from her eyes that her plans were all wasted, and found herself once again in his grasp. Only this time with a gun pointed at her temple. "You are going to suffer for this....really really suffer...you bloody...****..."he snarled, then whispered in her ears menacingly, "Where shall I start....? First from your ...." He looked down, "beautiful knees..."

"No....amma.... amma..."she screamed, then gave up, and began to sob, fear getting the better of her, "No....no..."

When they heard a short sharp blast at the back of the house. Both stood stunned for a second then with his hold around her neck tightening, he spun around with her. 

His eyes narrowed in confusion and anger, her eyes widened in joy, "Pappa..."she shouted looking at Arnav who was slowly walking towards them, hands raised, his eyes never wavering from Sandeep.



Apr 13, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 105 times)

Chapter-78

In spite of all the pain and discomfort and fear Aarushi smiled. Her father was there. He kept his promise that he'll never let anybody hurt her. He has received her messages and has come back to save them. Though his hands were raised as if in surrender his gait looked menacing that proclaimed he meant no nonsense. He was a man of few words but his silence spoke volumes. He simply filled the room with his presence and no room was big enough for him to remain unnoticed. His simple presence made people sit up and notice and made his opponents dumb. That reality struck her now, as her predator's hand slackened it's grip on her neck. He came back for her. She was never so happy to see him there. "Pappa..."she whispered her eyes glimmering with tears. She saw Kushal's worried face behind her father's, taking in the scene in front of him. Kushal then saw Kushi lying in the corner bleeding. "Amma..." he shouted and ran towards her. "Ma...ma...amma...wake up..are you okay? Can you hear me? Oh my God! She's bleeding! Amma.."he looked around desperately.

Arnav's fist clenched but still his eyes never wavered. He was torn inside between an urge to turn and run to Kushi, and fear that the man would hurt his girl if he showed weakness. "She is bleeding? Has he hurt her? Shot her? Is she breathing? Why is she not responding dammit? Kushi...not now...don't let me down...Kushi..we have to save our girl. I cant do it alone ....not with you hurt...Kushi....I need you..."his mind was calling to her desperately. "Arnavji...you here...? Kush...oh!" He heard her soft voice next instant and his fingers unclasped, relaxed.

"You're dad is dead..." said Sandeep surprised. 

"He... is my father." Aarushi replied looking at Arnav. 

"She is right...he is her father.."came Kushi's soft stammer from the corner of the room. Sandeep looked from one to another surprised and a little disturbed that he was outnumbered. 

"Both of you here? You were on your way to Mumbai, weren't you?"he asked.

Arnav kept looking at him saying nothing. 'Surprise him!' Had been Suraj's instruction. "A surprise element will make him stumble, rethink, recalculate his options and he would take hasty decisions and begin to make mistakes, that will give us some precious few seconds, which will be to our advantage. Aarushi had made my work easier." Arnav thought. His confusion was evident. Smiling Arnav stepped closer. He was just a couple of feet away, from them, "Don't come near me! Move back! Away!"he shouted nervously. Arnav stepped back alarmed. He didn't want Sandeep to be nervous. "If he is nervous he would act and might prove fatal to Aarushi or her mother...so talk to him and calm him down."Suraj had said.

"I have come to help you Sandeep...."came Arnav's deep throated voice quietly.

Sandeep laughed, "Help me? Why should I need your help?"

"We know all about you Sandeep.... We also know that it was your brother who was dead....or rather killed?" Sandeep eyed him again surprise written large in his eyes but stood there speechless. "You forgot Sandeep that your twin is a leftie....and you left him holding the gun in his right hand." Sandeep's eyes widened, next instant he brought back his nonchalant grin back in his face and asked, "So???? That is not going to any way stop me from what I intend to do to her." He shook Aarushi menacingly. 

"Don't move from where you are?"he shouted at Kush who was helping Kushi to slowly stand up. "Sandeep I'm only helping her to sit on that sofa." and when he turned his attention towards Arnav, Kush while quickly adjusting her dress passed a phone with camera on, to her and moved his eyes towards the people behind him. Kushi nodded. He straightened and stood away from her. "I need to frisk you two...."

Arnav shrugged and went near him. "Go ahead... I'm tired of holding my hands up ..." 

With the gun still pointing on her head, he used the other hand to tap over his chest and pant pockets checking for metal objects. He was satisfied. He looked at Kush. Who came near him tentatively. Sandeep didn't miss the beads of sweat on his forehead. He did the same and an evil grin broke on his face. "Hand it over to me...Kush! You think you are smart haan....? I'll show you who is smart here..." his hand stretched out for the gun. Kush slowly handed it to him. "Hmmmm...nice piece...."he turned the gun this side and that to check it.

"My dad's..."said Kush. Sandeep looked at Arnav, "No not he...my dad..."said Kush.

Sandeep's forehead creased in confusion then relaxed. He had a job at hand and their  complex relationships were least of his concerns.

"I ...it is just for my protection... Sandhu...I didn't mean any harm to you.…"Kush said.

Sandeep looked at the gun again, and asked cynically at Arnav, "And you say... that you've come to help me....?"

"Yes...I do have a proposition for you.... you surrender now ...."

"Me...? surrender? Is this a joke? I'm going to shoot her."

"If you shoot her..next instant you'd be shot dead."Arnav kept his voice steady, masking the turbulence he was feeling inside. 

"What?" Yelled Sandeep.

"You have no other option.... You cannot walk out of this door alive ..Sandeep...police have surrounded the area...either you su#rrender and walk out unharmed...."

Sandeep laughed, "And suffer in the **** hole you call jail, all my life...no thank you.."

"No ....it could be said that your brother was the culprit and the man behind all the killings and that you had no hand in all that ...in fact you were in hiding ...afraid that you'd be blamed for all his crimes...you'd be a free man Sandeep... I'll help you..."

"I don't believe you...."

"The police are outside...you cannot escape... Think about it Sandeep... What is the use of killing her and dying the next instant... When there is still a chance to walk out free."

Arnav could see the confusion that was slowly creeping in his mind reflect in his eyes.

"You are lying....I don't believe you....you are saying all this to save her..."he pressed the gun harder on her temple.

Arnav did not turn, "Kush.."he called, "Move the screen....show him..."

Kush went and moved aside the curtain behind Sandeep. He turned, forcing Aarushi to turn along with him. 

Kushi immediately captured the scene in front of her and the video was screened on the monitor in the van a street away. They were analysing the video shot by shot and soon it was conveyed to Suraj, on their position inside the house, their distance from the doorway and from the windows. 

Sandeep saw the men ...some in uniform, some plainclothesmen, with weapons pointed at the house outside. Kush moved to the dining area and moved the curtain aside. Those few seconds were enough for Suraj and his men to take position exactly and have Sandeep in the cross hairs of their lens without him noticing them.

"Sandeep... this is the best deal you'll ever get to walk free... "

"Hey devi mayya...only this laad governor can think about a deal even now..."he hear Kushi mutter.

"No..."he suddenly screamed, as if waking to his senses "All these are your ploys to kill me.....I'll not let you...get me ..I'll kill all of you...close those curtains..."he yelled at Kush.

Kush was taken aback, "What?" Even before anybody could react, Sandeep aimed the gun at him and pulled the trigger. 

"No...."shouted Arnav and pushed Sandeep away trying to distract his aim. The shot boomed inside the house, startling all of them present there. Aarushi screamed and caught hold of his hand holding the gun. Kushi ran to Kush to see if he was okay.

"Leave my hand you...****.."he screamed, more in pain than in anger and frustration as he saw blood spurt from his hand from a knife sticking out of it, the gun in his hand went off again, this time followed by another crackling sound as the glass splintered and next instant time stood still for few seconds as they all stood stunned looking at the blood dripping from Sandeep's forehead, his eyes going wide one instant and losing shine the next.

Aarushi let go of his hand and he fell down in a thud she turned and screamed, "Papa...." They saw the red blotch spreading on the front of his shirt.

Suraj, followed by his men saw Arnav collapsing on the floor as he came through the door. 

"Arnavji... you are bleeding..." cried Kushi, quickly kneeling beside him and opening his shirt. "Papa...you're hurt..."

"I'm fine Kushi...it's just..." Arnav gasped. Excruciating jolts of pain shot up his left arm and he clutched it grimacing in pain. He was gasping and couldn't get the words out. He felt he couldn't breathe. Suraj checked the wound and said, "Thank God! The bullet has just grazed through the skin...only superficial... you'll be all right in a couple of days...sir...good job!"he saluted him. 

Already the place was buzzing with men and officials, taking pictures and covering the body and dusting for prints. 

Arnav smiled and looked at them. Aarushi was looking at him all concerned. Kushi was kneeling beside him holding his palm. "You came Arnavji...you came....I knew ... I knew. ..." she said between tears. Arnav nodded, "I came ...Kushi...this time ....when you needed me...I came..." He whispered and gripped her fingers.

 Kush was kneeling on the side with tears pouring down his face, "You saved me....you took the bullet that was aimed at me..." 

Arnav with difficulty raised his hand and touched his wet cheek, "My son.."he smiled. "Papa..."Kush kissed his hand and buried into it.

His eyes were losing focus, they were all becoming blur in front of him. He had to tell her....he had to tell her, "Kushi...I ...I'm..." 

"Oh come on Sir...I asked you to act if necessary... Not over do it...we are on their way...it's time to get up..."Suraj laughed holding out his hand to him.

"Kushi...I... I..." Darkness gripped him and his head dropped.


Apr 19, 2016

The Winner Takes It All - II (By Raani82) (Thanked: 142 times)

Chapter-79

EPILOGUE



Arnav felt light as if he was floating and a strange peace settled within him. He was not uncomfortable of the darkness around him. He heard voices in the dark. Kushi whispering to him asking him to come back. 'Why is she asking me to come back? I don't want to go anywhere.' He was trying hard to open his eyes and tell her he was fine. He wanted to assure Aarushi and Kush that he'll be there for them. Then he saw the light, at the end of the tunnel. He began moving towards the beautiful aura. He felt as if it was beckoning him. It was as if his loneliness, pain and suffering will vaporize into thin air if he entered the light. He was moving but felt strange and wonderful for he didn't feel his feet touching a solid ground. It was as if he was walking on soft cotton. He came near the light, and he smiled. He saw his nani waiting for him. "Chote....! You here?"she asked smiling. "Nani...it's been so long...." 

"I missed you too chote!"she said and moved away. "Nani...talk to me..."

He went further, his smile changed to a frown. His daadi was standing there, with her, 'I told you so ....' look,  "Daadi.."

"I guess you learnt your lesson at last....didn't I tell you ...you'll regret the day you met her...see where it has brought you." She turned away in a huff. He didn't want to go further, Kushi's voice was persistent, asking him to forgive her for walking away from him, denying him of his fatherhood, not to punish her after all these years. "What is she saying? I want her ...to forgive me. I have to go back to her and ask her forgiveness." He almost turned when he heard the snigger from corner. He looked at the source of the sinister laughter and cringed in disgust, "Arre... Arre... Welcome saale Saab!"

He laughed, "Still the same old arrogant, egoist Arnav Singh Raizada....who made the girl think he loves her....love? What do you...know about love? You have only hurt her again and again... Probably I would have showed her what true love is...what real happiness is..."

"You are a cheat..."growled Arnav.

"You call me a cheat??? Look at you...even now you are making her cry....what does that make you..." he began to laugh loudly, his white teeth changing to fangs and making him look devilish. Arnav wanted to turn away from him, but suddenly he felt a big weight on him as if crushing him down, he was choking, and trying hard to get air into his lungs. "Kushi....don't cry...stop.... I love you...Kushi...don't...." What is that weight on my chest? Why is it so heavy? He felt hands on him, Kushi's voice asking him to forgive her, one last time...for all the trouble she had given him. 

"Remember...Arnavji..." her voice sounded amongst the sniffles, "I lighted the lamp and set the fire alarm on and flooded your office....then disturbed your important conferences and meetings, changed your ring tone, poured juice inside your shoes...."

Arnav opened his mouth to say "mango juice.."but no words came.

"Poured  hot tea on you....then washed clothes in your pool...made you do rangoli dance...made your life hell in buaji's house. I was never the one to appreciate the gifts you gave me Arnavji....please just give me one more chance to tell you how sorry I am...to love you and make up for all the lost time...please give me one more chance..."

The soft glow was beckoning him. He began to move unable to ignore it. He had to find out what was yonder. 

"Chacha..ji..."he whispered. He saw his uncle standing there with glimmering eyes, hands  spread wide, "Arnav....beta...come..." When he tried to move closer to him he disappeared. He stood there looking at the glow and smiled for the first time, he saw his parents standing there. His mother as always an epitome of love, stood there with tender eyes, her lips curved to a small smile, his father standing tall next to her, his face radiant with joy and love at seeing him. 

"Mama....papa...I've come ....mama...I've come to you..."he said his voice choking with emotion. "I'm sorry papa...for all the..."

"Chote..."came his booming voice, "We are proud of you....really proud of you...our only regret is we were never there to see you grow into a fine man you are now..."

"We love you chote..." 

"Mama...did you see my daughter....? my girl...mama...your grandchild...can you hear her?" he whispered to them. 



Aarushi sat outside huddled together with Kush, afraid to even move from her place lest something happened to Arnav if she did that. Suraj was waiting along with them anxiously. It had been four days since the shoot out at the house where Sandeep was killed and Arnav had been in and out of consciousness, and had not responded to the treatment. The doctors were trying their best to  revive him. Kushi didn't leave his side a moment even, talking to him trying very hard to pull him back from slipping to coma. Suraj looked at Aarushi and Kush...both looking gaunt and tired, eyes puffed up and red from crying. He remembered that moment he entered the old woman's house after shooting down Sandeep. Aarushi rushed into his ams. "I messaged  him, Suraj...." 

"Yes...baby...he got your messages... And we were able to trace your location from those messages."he said softly. 

"You came Suraj...."

"Yes...I came...now everything will be all right..."

Tears were pouring down her face, "I didn't panic Suraj...I didn't panic one moment even..."

Suraj rubbed her back gently, "You were very brave sweetheart! I'm proud of you."he said gently.

"I was so scared Suraj....so scared...."now she began blabbering, "when I saw the blood stains, I almost got sick but I controlled myself, I kept talking to him...you know I pretended as if I was really scared... he  believed me...asked me to clean the stains...I brought the soap water and while cleaning dumped it on him..."

"You were brave...honey...we'll talk later...now everything is taken care off...he'll not trouble you again..."

"Then papa entered...he..." She pointed her finger towards Sandeep, without turning her face, " tried to shoot Kush...papa came in between...I grabbed his hand holding the gun....but still he shot papa..."

"Your papa is just fine...Aarushi... Don't worry..."

"Why is he lying down like that? Suraj...what happened to him?"

He let her go and went to Arnav. Arnav had never opened his eyes or spoken till now. 

He looked at Aarushi, who sat there with a lost look. He went and kneeled in front of her, his face face close to her's,  "He'll be fine Aarushi..... He is a born fighter...he would not go down so easily..." He had known her only for the past five and a half months, yet he just couldn't bear to see the sadness in her eyes. How it happened why it happened he didn't know he didn't want to know. 

"Everything will be fine honey." He said.

"I'd never forgive myself if anything happens to him....how will I ever face amma?" Kush cried. Suraj, patted his shoulder assuring him that things will be fine. 

"Suraj...have you made the calls to Delhi?"

"Yeah....his sister Mrs Anjali and his brother Mr. Ashwin Malik are arriving tomorrow." He nodded., "Thanks.."

He looked at Aarushi, "Aarushi... Why don't you try talking to him? Let your amma rest a bit...try.... Aarushi..."

She slowly walked in, and looked at her father's once handsome face. It looked as if he had lost nearly five kilos in four days, with the mask over his nose covering his sunken cheeks. Her eyes  brimmed with tears. "He is still so young, what fifty five...this is not the age to go...there is still so much life left for him...he can't go...leaving me like this..."she thought. She sat next to him, took his hand in her's, "Papa...papa...can you hear me? Sure you can. I know you can."she lay her head gently on his chest. "All these months I was not scared papa..."she whispered, "because you were there for me....now I'm scared..promise me you'll be there for me...always...Papa...Suraj tells me I was so brave that day...but you haven't told me anything ....I'm still waiting to listen to the details of how you reached me...we have so much to talk papa....you can't be lying like this...you said you'll take me to Delhi to visit your family....I want to meet my Anjali bua...when are you going to take me to her...there is so much to do papa..so much to talk about... So much to live for....wake up and come back to us..."

Arnav's fingers gently tightened on her's. Then slackened.

"Ma...can you hear her....? she waiting for me ma... I'm so proud of her....I love her..ma.."he said looking at his parents.

"Chote... We are so happy for you....beta...you must go back to her..." They were fading, his heart was beating fast.

"Ma...but I want to come with you...don't go ma..papa..."he reached out his hands.

His mother smiled gently holding his hand, "This is not the time for you to come to us Chote.....go back to Kushi...go back to your girl....be happy my son...this is not the time...."they faded and the glow disappeared. Tears started pouring down his face, his chest began to heave, the voices grew louder around him, he couldn't see where the voices were coming from. Try as much as he could he found it so difficult to open his eyes. "Why were they all shouting?" He wanted them to stop. He wanted to see Kushi. 

"Kushi..."he called out. "Kushi....."he shouted. "Why isn't she talking to me?" He could hear her saying "Devi mayya...raksh karna...Devi mayya..." "Kushi..."he shouted again.

"Arnav....Mr.Raizada....Arnav???"he heard strange voices, "Can you hear us? Mr. Raizada?"

"Kushi...." he used all his strength to open his eyes and felt thousand needles prick his eyes due to the bright lights. He closed it shut immediately. "Kushi...."tears were running down his face, he felt drained, as if all the energy was sapped out of him. 

He must try ...he had to try..."Kushi...."he called out. He thought he was shouting, but the sound only came in whispers. "Arnavji....I'm here..."he heard her voice. He opened his eyes and saw her through his tears, he smiled and closed his eyes shut.

Few hours later, he opened his eyes again, he saw the familiar faces around him. He smiled at Kushi, then looked at Aarushi and Kush standing at the foot of his bed, each holding the other's hand tight, then at Suraj who was standing a bit away from them. He smiled at him, then looked at Aarushi. Suraj went near her and took her hand in his and held out to him. Arnav smiled and turned to Kushi, "Kushi I have to tell you something."he whispered.

She came closer and bent low to hear him. "Arnavji....you have to rest.."

"No....this can't wait...I realised that after all these years, I never got to say I'm sorry.... Kushi... I'm sorry, please forgive me."he said in a pleading voice. "I love you...and I would die all over again to save you and my daughter..."he said.

Kushi sat up straight, "Hmmmm...apology will be accepted only on one condition, I don't want you to die all over again to save us....but want you to live your life all over again with us.... ...deal? Mr. Raizada?"she asked smiling.

Arnav smiled. Now, this was one deal he was ready to accept and sign anywhere without any pre conditions, without any amendments or without any arguments. 



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Dear friends,

Thank you one and all from the bottom of my heart for your support and encouragement from beginning till end. There were some precious few who were with me in this journey from beginning till end. Thanks to all of them. Thanks to all the silent readers and to those who pressed the thank you button. 

Many of you were very generous in your appreciations  and comments. I just wanted to tell you that being an avid reader, I developed this concept with the help of many of the novels I've read. So I accept that this is not completely my imagination. Seventy five percent of the concept I would say is my imagination.

Once again a big Thank you to one and all.

I have only one request to make. Now that the story has come to an end, I want as many silent readers as possible to pen in few words. Please...hope you will all comply to my small request.

Thank you. Will meet you in the next. Till then take care all of you.

God Bless!

Rani.





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