Where Happiness Lives
Click here to read Chapters 1-10 and catch up on the back story !
Chapter 1 - You Already Know
Chapter 2 - Is it Love?
Chapter 2 - Is it Love?
Chapter 3 - Imperfections
Chapter 4 - Strangeness
Chapter 5 - Spectrum
Chapter 6 - Monsters in the Dark
Chapter 7 - The Little Things
Chapter 8 - Revolving Doors
Chapter 9 - Heartlines
Chapter 10 - Where Happiness Lives
Chapter 11 - Would You Lie With Me?
Chapter 12 - You and I Know
Chapter 13 - Lightning
Chapter 10 - Where Happiness Lives
Chapter 11 - Would You Lie With Me?
Chapter 12 - You and I Know
Chapter 13 - Lightning
So, for those of you starting this Fanfic here, the story so far in a small small nutshell is basically that Arnav and Khushi fall completely in love with eachother, Shyam witnesses this and tries to break them apart by lying to Arnav about him having an affair with Khushi. When Arnav confronts Khushi about this, he decides to believe her instead, and asks her to marry him on the terrace the night of Aakash and Payals wedding.. the story continues from there onward. Pleasant reading my dears !
Chapter 11 -Would You Lie With Me?
Arnav looked down at her tear streaked face. It was the face of the one girl he had chosen to care about. The eyes that bled oceans, were the eyes of the one girl that had taught him what it meant to live. The skin that shone precariously in the dim light, like the edge of a bright horizon lining clear waters, was the soft skin of the one person in the world, that he had fallen in love with.
The only one. For ever and for always.
He continued to watch her, as her eyelashes fluttered against her skin, and he encaptured her small hands with his strong ones, feeling her skin run over the swollen flesh on his knuckles before fitting her slender fingers perfectly in the gap between his.
“Khushi” he whispered to her, squeezing her hand lightly “Come on” he ushered, pulling her after himself as he took a step towards the door that led off the terrace, feeling her resist his motion.
He turned to see her shaking her head, fear evident in her bright eyes as she clutched onto the fabric of her dark blue lehenga.
“It’s okay Khushi, you trust me?” he asked, watching her nod “I promise I will keep you safe okay? Everything is going to be okay. Come on” he said again, feeling her take the first step with him, as they stepped back into the house together.
Together, she thought.
Shyam ran his fingers lightly along his cheek just under his eye, where a bruise was beginning to form from the punch his bother in law had thrown at him a while ago. He smiled, ignoring the pain. It didn’t matter.
He had gone and told Arnav that Khushi was involved with him. How quickly his brother in law had turned on the girl he supposedly loved. It was much too easy.
“Khushi ji” he smirked, speaking to his reflection “I am not like Sale Sahaab, I did not want to turn my back on you, but you made fun of my love, you ruined it, so I had no other choice but to ruin yours, but it is okay” he said “we will still be together, don’t you worry.”
Anjali continued to search amongst faces and bodies and shadows for her husband. She smiled, clutching at her stomach as she thought of the life inside of her.
Khushi let Arnav hold her hand until they stood in the hallway just receding the stairs that lead to the hall where their siblings wedding rituals were about to begin. He watched her for a moment, before pulling her in close to him, tucking a strand of hair away behind her ear, whispering to her.
“Are you sure you are okay?” he asked, feeling her nod against his cheek.
“I have to take care of a few things, I need to speak to Di, I have to tell her what she needs to know. I will talk to you soon okay?” he reassured her, stepping away from her and letting her walk down the stairs before him.
He watched her through the ceremony, paying attention to her lost eyes that should have been focused on nothing but her sister tonight. Arnav frowned thinking about all the weight she had placed on her shoulders, she was too young, too beautiful, too full of life to have to deal with problems like this.
But it would be okay in the end. That was the only thing he was sure of.
The Gupta’s said goodbye to everyone in turn, hugging the daughter that they were leaving behind before turning to the family they had entrusted her with to say their farewell.
Arnav held on to Khushi’s hand as she passed him, taking a second to whisper to her before she had a chance to get away.
“Goodbye for now” he said, letting go of her hand just as quickly as he had held it “Fiance” he smiled, watching her eyes register surprise at his use of the word.
She looked back once as she left, returning his smile before she slipped out of the door.
It had been two whole days since then.
She had neither seen him or heard from him.
She had tried calling his number, only to shut her phone off when it was dialling. If he had anything to say, he would call her. He had told her to wait. And that is what she would do.
“Titaliya!” her Buaji called “Are you ready yet?”
“Hai!?” she scowled, looking at Khushi with wet hair clinging to the back of her purple and black dress, staring down at her phone.
“Sanka Devi! How are you not ready yet, come on, get up get up. We are late already, what will Payal’s in laws think? Lets go.”
Khushi stood up wondering how there was only one person in that house whose thoughts she would care about tonight.
He wasn’t anywhere to be found and she found herself terribly afraid again. Like she had found herself to be with him countless times before. What if something had gone wrong again, what if he had changed his mind? What if he didn’t want her anymore?
She shook her head rid of those thoughts as she slipped out of the room where everyone was, scurrying up the stairs to his room, insecurity would get her nowhere.
She walked out to the poolside having found the room empty, staring out into the clear blue water, she waited patiently as her vision blurred and salinity brimmed up in her eyes, finally flowing down her eyelashes, letting go a large drop of sadness that hurled on to ground beneath her. She never would have thought separation from someone for a few days would leave such an empty feeling in her chest.
As she closed her eyes, she felt him wrap his arms around her and she froze. He didn’t say anything, only pulled her back close up against his chest, comfortably fitting her small frame beneath his hold. She heard him sigh and rest his head on her shoulder, breathing against her collarbone.
“Khushi..” he said, voice cracking.
She kept her eyes closed.
“What has happened Arnav ji?”
He shook his head, telling her he wasn’t ready to share just yet.
“Just stay with me for a while” he asked.
She raised her arms to place them atop his that were wound around her waist, telling him that she would stay for as long as he wanted.
He breathed in the cool misty air around her, feeling her damp hair against his shirt, soaking through the material. It flowed down in perfect silent waves down her back. He had missed her so much these past few days, but his life had fallen apart in such a small time, he didn’t know if he could deal with it all.
Khushi wasn’t sure how long it had been, she didn’t really think about why they had not been searched for in a long while, all she knew, was that she was with him. Everything else seemed to fade out. The hazy sky faded out into a dark blue, the sun setting on their faces, leaving them in a pool of grey.
After what seemed like a lifetime, Arnav finally spoke.
“Di is pregnant”
Khushi froze at first, feeling a surge of rigidness run along her form. She needed a while to register what he had just said, this couldn’t be true, she wanted to ask him to repeat himself, she couldn’t have heard correctly, but it was such a strange feeling she didn’t know what to do with herself, she fidgeted under his hold, turning around to face him with questioning eyes.
“I tried to tell her the truth, but I don’t think she will be able to...” he broke off, sighing again and leaning down to rest his forehead on hers, letting her feel his world of worries. She wasn’t sure what to say.
This changed everything. If they couldn’t tell Anjali the truth, where would that leave them? Where would that leave Shyam? She shuddered, unable to bear the thought of a man like him anywhere near Anjali. She was one of the sweetest people Khushi had ever met, she didn’t deserve this, no woman did.
“What am I going to do Khushi?” he asked, talking to himself more than expecting an answer from her. She remained silent, still frozen from fear and concern and understanding that he didn’t need her to say anything, just to listen.
A long moment later, he lifted his head up and held on to her hand again, stepping away from their safe haven, the poolside, heading back out towards the hall downstairs.
“Are you ready?” he asked, pausing momentarily at the top of the stairs.
“To tell them we are going to get married”
Khushi gulped, looking down at the room below her where her family sat, Nani was absorbed in a deep conversation with Buaji, and Anjali held on to Shyams elbow, speaking to Aakash that sat next to her. Her Jiji as smiling at something NK had just said, leading Garima to shake her head at his silliness. Everyone seemed so happy, there couldn’t have been a better time.
Khushi reached out towards Arnav with her second hand, placing it on top of their already clasped hands.
As Arnav spoke, Shyam couldn’t believe his ears. He wouldn’t. What sort of sick game was this? How could they get married?
Anjali let go of his arm to go and hug Khushi, who stood looking a bit shell shocked at the sudden burst of happiness in the room. She deliberately avoided his gaze, and he tried his best to catch hers, he wanted her to see what she was making him go through, she wanted her to see the mistake she had made yet again. He felt his nails digging in deeper and deeper into the skin of his palm as he found an outlet for his fury.
Arnavs eyes followed his, and he clenched his jaw to prevent himself from attacking him right there and then for looking at his fiance that way. If it weren’t for his sister, he would have ripped his eyes out already.
He remembered the confrontation he had with Shyam the night of Payal and Aakash’s wedding, after the Gupta’s had gone home. He had tried to fuel the fire by suggesting how he and Khushi were in love, and that nothing could tear them apart. His Di was the only obstacle to their love.
But years of working in business had given Arnav the skill to be able to look straight through people like that.
After having calmed down he smiled smugly at the look on Shyam’s face, he let his victory shine through and he pondered over the irony of the situation.
How Shyam had thought that his Di was the only obstacle to his and Khushi’s love, when in reality, his Di was the only reason they would ever be caught standing in the same room.
“This is such good news Chote!” Nani enthused, turning around to face Buaji.
“Madhumadi Ji, Garima ji what do you say, are you willing to give us another one of your precious daughters?” she smiled, receiving happy nods from them as Garima reached out for Khushi and asked her silently in her ear if that is what she really wanted.
“You want to marry him bitya?” Garima asked subtely, trying to ask privately.
Khushi blushed as she looked up to find Arnav staring at her, listening in on them.
“Do you?” he mouthed cheekily, making Khushi furiously turn back to her mother.
“Yes Amma, I do”
Arnav smiled hearing the words from her lips, it took everything in him to not sweep down on her and plant a kiss right on her mouth. His Di suddenly reached out for his arm, pulling him towards her and giving him a warm hug.
It brought all the memories of their past and the secrets he was hiding rushing back to his mind. Flashes of his Di’s smile, Khushi’s tears, and Shyams bruised face ran before him, and he found himself, once again. Guilt ridden.
Khushi walked through the dark corridors towards the store room to get hold of some sweets she had offered to bring instead of Hari Prakash who had seemed busy making arrangements for the Pooja Anjali was holding the next morning. She thought of how happy everyone had seemed at the prospect of her marriage to Arnav. Her Jiji’s smug face, and her Babuji’s honest smile warmed her heart. Maybe this was all for the best. Maybe everything wasn’t as bad as she had thought. She heard footsteps behind her and turned at the sound.
He didn’t care that the very same family that he had tried so hard to keep everything from were present in the same house, most of them now in Payal and Aakash’s room discussing Khushi and Arnavs marriage, or that he was risking losing everything. He thanked the Raizada’s for the large house they lived in as he sped up walking down yet another long corridor, the line between anger and absolute rage blurred as he marched up to her, watching her dress sway with ever step she took.
“Arnav ji?” she called, turning around.
That way she uttered his name drove him over the edge, and he growled at her, taking one more step and stifling her scream roughly with his palm, digging it in against her lips. Her eyes flew open in fear as he threw her against the wall, and she struggled against him, pulling away at his strong arm that was suffocating her.
“No Khushi ji” he said menacingly “It’s Shyam .. remember me Khushi ji? REMEMBER ME!?” he spat at her.
Arnav and Anjali stood in the corridor just outside Payal and Aakash’s room. Arnav had been listening to his sister tell him how proud she was of him, for finally doing something that would make everyone happy, but his heart jumped in fear when he noticed she was not standing in the room.
“Khushi..?” he called, looking around him.
Chapter 12 - You and I Know
She looked around in panic, her heart plummeting as she found two empty corridors thrown in darkness all around her where the filtered light from the distant hall barely found her. She tried pushing him away, scratching at his hand that held her. But it did no good, it only made him angrier, and he shoved her harder against the cold stone wall that pricked at her skin like icy needles.
"I just want to talk to you Khushi ji, why do you always try to get away. Why do always have to make the wrong decisions. Like deciding to marrying him!?" he whispered in a rage, sending a wave of repulse along Khushi from his proximity.
He leaned in to her, inches away from her face.
"You think you are going to marry him? You think I am going to let you do that? Don't you remember that you are mine?"
Khushi ignored his vile words and tried to bite his palm, but he only sniggered warningly at her attempt. As she pushed at him again he grabbed her arms in his other hand and twisted them to her side, leading her to shout out a muffled cry of pain.
"Do you remember that day Khushi ji? When I put that ring on your finger?" he looked down at the hands that he now held, fingers empty of the small ring of gold she had thrown back at him the day she had found out he had been lying to her.
"You had a problem with me being married? Why couldn't you just wait Khushi, you just made all of this so much harder. I told you I would fix it, why can't yo..."
She struggled against him harder, feeling her lungs cry out for oxygen. She tried to breathe in, to feed her body, but he wouldn't allow it. In his pathetic fixation he had shut out the image infront of him, he didn't see her trying to drag in for air, he only saw her betrayal and the look in Arnav's eyes when he had announced that he would marry her. Jealousy painted his eyes over in a mist of ugly green.
That was his place. It had been his right from the moment he had set eyes on her.
She was his. No body elses.
In the forty minutes following their marriage announcement, the family had rejoiced. They had been shocked, and then reluctantly had let their smiles through, which now beamed through the room in excess. The ladies now sat spread across Payal and Akash's bed, chatting away over arrangements that needed to be made, and how Payal had settled in.
Arnav and Anjali stood in the corridor just outside Payal and Aakash's room. Arnav had been listening to his sister tell him how proud she was of him, for finally doing something that would make everyone happy. Arnav smiled at his Di, and looked around the small space and in through the open door towards his family, but his heart jumped in fear when he noticed she was not standing in the room.
"Khushi..?" he called, looking around him.
Anjali smiled "Oh? So a few minutes without her and you are already going crazy!? Don't worry Chote, I think she went to help Hari Prakash get some things for tomorrow, you can breathe" she teased, turning in towards the room to join everyone.
NK, Akash and his Mama ji were crowded around the corner of the room, deep in discussion over something Akash had said. He was about to take a step in their direction, having almost let it go, thinking that he may have been over reacting, when he noticed, that Shyam wasn't in the room either.
His heart thudded dangerously against his chest, and his throat caught in fear.
"I..I'll be back" he shot at his sister who was hardly even listening, before bolting down the stairs.
He tried convincing his shaky legs the way down the stairs that nothing was wrong, but a sense of dread clouded behind his chest, making him think otherwise. He pulled out his phone and found her number, stopping at the bottom he let it ring, waiting to hear her voice.
"C'mon Khushi, pick up damn it!" he swore, looking down at his screen in frustration.
He froze, straining his ears to hear her ringtone, but the only thing that met his ears was silence.
He dialled again as he heard the message for voicemail after 6 beeps.
His sentence was cut short but a low buzzing sound escaping from within her palm. He tore open her grip, pulling the phone roughly away from her.
He stared blankly at the name on the screen.
"Laad Governer?" he asked in a sinister way, holding the phone in front of her eyes. He knew it was what she called Arnav. The way her eyes had responded to seeing his call only worked to build up his fury. He threw the phone at the wall just above her shoulder, causing her to flinch back in fear, afraid that the blow was coming her way.
It broke against the cement, the crunch of splitting glass and metal ringing against her ear as she tried to stop the tears that had started to flow down her cheeks. A small piece of glass found it's way to embed itself in the skin at the edge of her jaw. She cried harder, she wanting his filthy hands off of her, she wanted the feel of his skin against hers to be gone. She couldn't take it.
She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes to him, unable to bear the way he was lustfully staring at her neck. She gathered all her courage and resolve, opening her eyes a few seconds later, determined and strong.
"The number you have dialled is not available at the moment, please try agai..."
Arnav slammed his phone shut, beads of perspiration playing away at his forehead. She couldn't possibly be somewhere with no reception and she wouldn't turn her phone off. He was beyond concerned now.
He leapt forwards when he saw Hari Prakash.
"Where is Khushi!?" he almost shouted.
Surprised by his tone, a dazed Hari Prakash could only point in the direction of the corridor that lead towards the back side of the mansion. Before he could even raise his arm to its full height, Arnav had bounded out of sight.
Shyam saw her blazing eyes, full of anger and repulse before a striking pain hit him between the knees. He recoiled, letting go of her wrists for a split second, within which she had thrown her full weight at him, causing him to sway unbalanced and topple to the floor.
She didn't look back at the man lying on the ground. She didn't look back at the darkness.
She just ran.
She anxiously wiped away at her tears, breathing in loud raspy gasps, looking back to check if he was running behind her when she collided with something lean and strong, about to fall back from the force, if it wasn't for the hands that steadied her by the elbows, holding her close.
She turned back around hysterically pushing away at the contact, afraid that Shyam had somehow managed to catch up to her.
"Get off me, get off" she cried, throwing her hands in front of her, using all her force to push away.
"Let go of me, don't touch me, LET GO!" she screamed.
"Khushi, Khushi stop" the voice called.
She drowned it out, she didn't want to hear it, she wanted to block out all her senses, so she could forget the way he had touched her. She scrunched her eyes up tightly, obstructing all thoughts.
"Khushi, listen to me, stop, it's me, please" Arnav pleaded, cupping her face softly but firmly , forcing her to look at him.
"Khushi" he spoke, suddenly getting through to her as her eyes flew open.
She took a moment to observe him.
It really was Arnav.
She shuddered, relief washing over her in cold waves as she tried to calm down.
He pulled her in close, crashing her in against his chest, making sure she was still together in one piece as she wrapped her arms around his neck, clinging on to him and the safety he offered.
"I'm here Khushi, what is wrong? What happened?" he asked, feeling her tears against his warm neck.
She shook her head, voice failing.
He brought his hands behind his neck, holding her wrists lightly, pulling them down so he could take a step back and look at her properly.
"Khushi" he asked again, his patience wavering "tell me what happened, you are okay aren't you?"
He followed her gaze which had dropped down to their hands and he saw marks along her arm and wrist, the inflamed skin along her delicate frame left a burning rage erupting within him.
"It was Shyam" he said sternly, using all his self control to maintain calmness. He watched a tear drop from her eyes looking towards the floor, her silence confirming his words.
"Khushi, tell me if this was him, because I will go right this second, and I swear to God I'll.."
"You will do nothing" she said, looking up at his angry eyes "You know what it will do to Anjali ji, you can't Arnav Ji"
Arnav looked at her, unable to bear the thought of anyone harming her. No, he could not just stand by and do nothing. If Shyam had so much as touched her, he would have away with him. This he was not willing to tolerate.
He let go of her arm, clenching his jaw to suppress the growl that escaped his chest in anger, stepping around her to find him and break his fingers for daring to touch her.
His body shook in fury as he took rapid steps but before he could get very far, he felt her small hands grab onto his elbow, pulling at him.
"Arnav ji, please, don't do this, not now, not when everyone is so happy, please, think of Anjali ji, think of the family... just let it go please"
He closed his eyes, slowly pulling her hand off him "I cannot do nothing about this" he strained, struggling to keep his voice low.
"Well you have to!" she retaliated.
"I am not going to stand by while he hurts you, How dare he touch you!" He roared, turning back around to face her, eyes burning in aggression as he released some of his anger.
She blinked, waving away her fear of the situation before she heard footsteps coming towards them. Shyam was fast approaching, she knew if Arnav saw him he wouldn't be able to stop himself from attacking him, so she stepped up to him, cupping his face, forcing him to look at her like he had done to her a few moments previously.
"You are going to have to, it was nothing Arnav ji, but you cannot make a big deal out of this, not now, I won't let you, it will hurt too many people and no good will come of it. Think of Anjali ji, think of her child. You look at me, I am stronger that I look, and you know that better than anyone. I am absolutely fine.." she feigned, hiding her shivering heart that was still shaking violently from her encounter with Shyam.
"No you are not" he shot back, remembering the way she had frantically cried and pushed away at him in terror.
The footsteps became louder and Khushi began to panic. She saw a door off to the right and turned back to him, seeing the anger leak out of his eyes in floods of pain and wrath.
"You are stepping back today Arnav ji, you are better than this. Come on, come with me" she said, surprising Arnav by pulling him quickly, throwing them both from the dark corridor to an even darker room, shutting the door with a muffled noise, leaning against him as she heard the footsteps get louder and then die out completely. She looked up at him apologetically from aclose, face a few inches apart in the moist dark.
Arnav looked back at her, when he saw a glint of light against her jaw reflecting a tiny glimmer of light thrown in through the open window. A line of deep red blood ran in a narrow track a few inches onto her neck, a reminder of Shyams brutality against her elusive skin.
The visible mark of her pain shot him over the edge of containment, Shyam had threatened her. He had used his overbearing strength against her bodily weakness to take advantage of her innocence, of her kindness and the goodness she possessed.
He shut his eyes, unable to stomach the thought of someone harming her and not being able to do anything about it. He felt sick, he felt paralysed. He had fought all his life to become someone that would never have to feel helpless. He had worked for the power and the strength to control everything that went on around him. And now, when it was one of the things that mattered the most to him in the world, the love of his life. He found himself reduced to the same 15 year old boy, lost and broken. Angry at the world for putting himself in that place, but angrier at himself for not being able to fix it.
Chapter 13 - Lightning
It was silent. The world fell into a dismal field of darkness and serenity as he stared at the trace of blood upon her skin. She watched him, breathing heavily from adrenaline and his proximity, as he carefully wiped away the red with his thumb, caressing her cheek before slumping his head to place his lips along her jaw line.
Her grip on his arm tightened at the stinging as he picked the shard of metal out of her skin with his teeth.
"I'm Okay" she said, before he could say anything "Really, I am"
She felt his husky breath against her, cooling the sting from the cut, sending a pool of warmth through her. The smell of his perfume dabbled with her senses, as she tried to remember where she was.
He didn't say a word, he was too scared to. He wasn't sure what he would sound like, so he stayed silent, pulling back from her, to stare into her illuminating eyes warily. They waited a while, far longer than the sinister footsteps had faded away to leave behind a ringing silence.
Khushi jumped as the stronge breeze sent the window at the far side of the room crashing to a close.
Arnav held her hand and lead her out of the room, they walked the darkened corridors in silence, both thinking a world of thoughts. Fear consumed by rationality muddled away at their insides, both searching for a degree of normalcy, hoping that everything was fine.
Arnav stopped as they reached the light of the hall, and he slowly let go of her hand.
"You go ahead, I'll be there in a moment" he indicated up the stairs towards where the rest of the family was in Payals room.
Curiosity and concern swept across her delicate features as she reached out for his warm palm again, enclosing it in both of hers. Taking a deep breath, she reverted herself back to the bubbly persona she knew she could put up even in the most dire times.
"Arnav Ji, come on, come with me, everyone will wonder where you are gone, come on"
"You go ahead" he breathed, keeping his jaw tightly clenched.
"But, what about.." she stopped momentarily, searching for a good excuse"everyone is going to.. I mean.. what do you need to do anyway.. it can wait.. everyone will be asking about us" she managed, not able to substantiate a good enough reason other than she didn't want him doing anything stupid. And she wasn't exactly sure how to eloquently word that, so she turned on her heel confidently, pulling his hand along with her. He didn't budge at her pull.
"You go" he said, more firmly this time, and she obeyed, letting go of his hand against her will.
He gave her a small smile that was anything but reassuring, and he walked away, back into the darkness as she watched helpless, feeling her confidence and resolve slip away, replaced by the scared and fearful spirit that she held in his absence.
"Devi Maiya.." she started, whispering her tears away in a prayer.
The rage he had locked up for the past few minutes, bottled up in his racing pulse came flooding out in a rush as he walked up to the figure standing out by door that ran towards the garden. He roughly pulled the shoulder back, and before he could scorch his gaze with the mans face, he threw a strong punch which met itself bone crushingly against skin and bones.
The figure standing in the darkness was thrown back from the unexpected force, stumbling towards the ground when Arnav lifted him by his collar, a seething rage running out of his ferocious gaze.
"You dare lay a finger on her again, and I will...finish...you" he whispered menacingly into the mans eyes, placing emphasis on his last two words.
Shyam flinched, cringing away at the throbbing pain against his jaw that felt broken.
He watched Arnavs anger with a sense of fear, curiosity, and a mellow humour. This was a man who felt he was in control, who had been in control for much of his life, but he used things against people which Shyam cared not of. Dignity, respect, money, family.
Yes, they all meant something to him, especially the money, but none of it was above Khushi. He wasn't scared. He wouldn't back off. Threatening him only made him angrier.
He ignored the searing pain and sent Arnav a ominous smirk, flashing a blood stricken mouth before he pushed his brother in laws hands off of himself.
The way he was looking at him made Arnav want to kill him right there. It was bad enough that he was ruining his Di's life, and now torturing Khushi, but the way he smiled made Arnav want to murder him. He had never felt such strong hatred towards a person before.
As he gritted his teeth, preparing himself for another punch, Khushi's face flashed before his eyes. The way she had smiled at him, the way she had looked at him, eyes brimming with unshed tears, the way she had held his face in her angelic hands and told him that it wasn't worth it. That everything they shared was so much more than this.
Khushi was his saving grace. And if it wasn't for her, he could not even imagine where he would have summoned the strength to walk away from Shyam from, leaving him standing out in the ruffling wind as he headed back to what mattered more than this man. His family. His sister. The love of his life. His Khushi.
The following day, Arnav sat across the room, staring at Khushi who nervously shuffled in her pale yellow dress. He had never thought he would like that colour so much, but the way it looked with the light pink blush playing away at her cheeks, drove him crazy. Her light skin scratched against the metallic borders sewn onto the fabric, bordering where her soft skin showed.
The Gupta's had come over to discuss the best time for the marriage, and they sat in unison with the Raizada family, chatting away as the dimming light from the late afternoon filtered through the large space.
"You know, I don't think I have ever seen him concentrate on one point for as long as he has"
"Huh?" Khushi snapped up to Anjali's voice, and she followed her gaze to find Arnav staring right at her, a lost expression on his face.
"You know he has been looking at you like that for the past half hour?" Anjali teased.
Khushi knew it, she was well aware. And for the past half hour she had been trying her best to get him out of her mind for fear of hyperventilating in the crowded room.
"So 2 weeks then!? My goodness that is so soon" Nani said smiling.
Buaji looked over at Garima and Khushi "We should really head home soon, it will be dark in an hour or so and we should get to work on arrangements for the wedding, it is lucky that we have such a fateful day so soon, but we have too much work to get done to sit around like this! If you will excuse us?" she said politely towards a huffing Mami and a still smiling Nani.
"Of course" Nani said, turning away from a disapproving Mami.
Shyam stood behind one of the larger pillars leading down the corridor towards the front door. He looked from Arnav to Khushi and back again.
2 weeks. The Pandit had said that that was the best time for their marriage.
The words reverberated through his mind. Two words depicting a time that would change him. They numbed out his feelings, leaving him stunned.
In 2 weeks he would lose her, to him.
He watched unmoving as they walked away from the living room space, fast approaching where he stood to find their way to the front door.
"Hey Fiance" he called to her as she walked away from him, catching up to her in a few strides as their families walked away "I like calling you that" he said, playing with the skin along her arm.
"Too bad it will only be for two weeks" he sighed, travelling up along her arm, along her shoulder and neck, to find the side of her jaw where he circled the small scar formed from yesterdays injury, the memory of which set his small smirk into a rigid straight line.
"I'm fine" she snapped, not wanting anyone else to notice the injury "You know, you could not stare at me for so long, people will think.."
"Think what?"he dared her "Think what Khushi?" he said calmly, still tracing her jawline.
She blushed, looking away, when she caught Shyam staring out at them from the middle of the corridor. Arnav followed her eyes to meet Shyam who was shaking from what appeared to be fury. He instinctively raised a protective arm up to Khushi's elbow, wanting to form a shield between them.
Khushi felt Arnav stiffen beside her, but she was not concerned about that. What she was concerned about was the thick bruise running along Shyam's jaw. Swollen skin lining his face from what clearly looked like a recent injury.
She turned back to Arnav with an accusing glare.
She smiled, thinking of how much her brother had probably wanted to speak to Khushi for the past hour or so "Listen, Bua ji, Garima ji, I have a few things to talk to Khushi about" she lied for her brother "how about you go ahead first and we can send Khushi over in a car in a couple of hours" she smiled sweetly, eliciting an approving nod from Bua ji who stepped outside with Khushi's mother.
On her way back, she grabbed a hold of Shyams arm, dragging him along with her up the stairs until they disappeared out of sight, glad that she could give her brother some quality time with his fiance.
Arnav and Khushi had not even noticed when everyone left and they were suddenly left standing alone in the hall.
"Tell me you didn't do that " she said, not waiting for an answer before reaching for the hand placed on her elbow. She stared in horror at the deep gashes on his knuckles, matching the fresh raw skin on Shyams skin.
She did not care for Shyam, not a single bit. He could go rot in hell for all she cared, for all the wrong he had done, a single punch or two was nothing, but that was not the point. She had asked Arnav not to do anything, she had warned him about how much was at stake. And as much as she appreciated the fact that she had someone looking out for her, she didn't trust his impulsive behaviour. She already knew that Arnav had temper problems, and that he did things he did not mean, or things that he would come to regret later on when in anger. But that was no excuse, he had to be careful, for Di.
"I asked you not to.." she said unbelieving "Why did you hit him?"
Arnav pulled his injured hand out of her gentle grip "What do you expect me to do? Stand around while he hurts you?" he said.
"That is exactly what I expect you to do!" Khushi retaliated "I told you I was fine! Why can't you just.."
"Khushi, I do not regret what I did, I don't need you to tell me wh.." he interrupted.
"Well by the looks of it, you do need someone to tell you!" she shot back, cutting him short. She couldn't even remember how the bickering had started, and she didn't care. She didn't even know what the problem was. One wrong move from either of them could destroy their families. It would ruin Anjali's whole life. Khushi knew that no one wanted to keep her safe more than Arnav, but he could not continue to run out of control this way. All she wanted was for him to keep his anger in check. She didn't want to see him hurt.
"Arnav ji, you need to understand, if Anjali finds out, it will ruin her, it will ruin everyone, and that does not mean we can't deal with this, there is a way to fix it, I know in my heart that there is, and that we will find it. But you can't keep doing things like this. This is the second time you have hit him within a single week ! People ask questions about things like that, they don't just disappear. You have to be careful"
"You are telling me to be careful" he threw at her scornfully.
"Arnav ji.. it's for Anjali" Khushi pleaded, wondering how everything had just spiralled out of control in a number of seconds.
Arnav flashed her a livid look "I know who this is for.."
"Well then please try to..."
"Be careful!?" Arnav whispered furiously, holding on to her shoulders, he knew what was happening, he didn't need a reminder. He didn't need to be reminded of his sister, and all the pain she would have to go through as a result of all of this "None of this would be happening if you had just been careful when you had first met him, or let him stay at your house, or gotten BLOODY ENGAGED to him. So don't tell me to be careful, none of this would even be happening if wasn't for you" he strained, pushing her away.
He didn't remember what he had just said. It seemed to sway around with all the anger in his mind, but one glance at the look on her face following his harsh words told him all he needed to know.
That she was right. That he lost control of everything when he was in anger, that he said things he didn't mean, and did things that he would regret. He wanted to take it back as soon as he had uttered the words. But it was too late. The damage was done.
He watched, stunned into silence as she took a few steps back from him and ran out through the door.
This is why she had wanted to tell him to be careful. Because there were some things you couldn't take back, some things that couldn't be erased with a simple smile or apology, some things that couldn't be forgotten. Some things that would forever leave a scar.
Hope you liked it ! Please do leave likes and comments ! Love, Hayles