Chapter Five

Lust.

That’s what this started out as.

As I smile one last time for the assembled media and walk out of the Moscone convention center after the press conference,  that thought overpowers the adulation and the triumph…and the sense of victory that should have been my only feeling at a time like this. I know that tonight will go down in history as one of the milestones in the Software industry, and this is something that I have been waiting for a long, long time.

And yet, throughout the hour long press conference, I found myself looking through the crowd…searching for a woman who couldn’t possibly be here. The rational part  of me knew that she was in our home at Menlo Park, but the other, newly discovered , less-sane part found itself craving her presence…wishing that she were here, to share in this.

When all I should have been contemplating  was my greatest triumph, my thoughts repeatedly veered to her, wondering what she was doing at that moment…

The door of the limo finally closes, leaving me in a cool silence that is a stark contrast to the heated restlessness that overpowers me.

How has it come to this?

 

How has lust led to this…this utter lack of control?

I lean my head back against the headrest and close my eyes, allowing my thoughts to wander back to the first time I saw her. I reason with myself that if I analyse my every move since I met her, I might gain some clue…some hint about what is causing this upheaval in my life.

I distinctly remember the first time I saw her, of course.

And it wasn’t on the balcony of Shantivan. I have lied to her about that, something that still makes me feel slightly guilty when I allow myself to think about it at all.

That first moment is burned in my memory, and I remember the exact thoughts that were going through my head as I stood by the window of my room in Shantivan. As I shrugged into my suit jacket, I tried to drum up some enthusiasm for the planned event but failed miserably. I had known what my grandmother wanted, and I had also known that she had planned the gathering to make it easier for me to choose. But try as I might, I couldn’t seem to find the energy to go out there and make an effort to get to know these women.

What could I possibly have in common with them?

 

I was sure that it was going to be a pointless affair…and probably boring as hell.

Until I had looked down from the window and seen…her.

 

She had paused on the driveway  for a moment while her family stepped out of the taxi, and her face had been turned up to the facade of the mansion.

I hadn’t been able to discern her features very clearly, but there were things that I noticed immediately, things that sparked the interest that had  clearly been missing until now.

I saw the curiosity evident in her stance, and I saw the modest clothing that told me volumes about her. I saw her shake her head, then turn to her family as they came up to her.

And then she  had walked in through the front door with an easy, fluid grace, and I lost sight of her.

Fueled by a level of interest that I couldn’t even begin to understand, I turned to the door and wrenched it open, only to be stalled by a phone call. Cursing NK to the depths of hell, I had managed to conclude the call in only a few minutes and then stepped towards the central staircase.

I remember a blurred kaleidoscope of colors and faces that turned towards me as I stepped into the living room, but I had only aim, one focus.

After a few minutes, I had spotted her across the room, talking to one of the older women who had come with her. I had barely taken one step towards her when my grandmother’s voice stopped me, and I had turned towards her with a smile, feeling for the first time that this party wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

“Arnav, you’re late.”

“I’m here now, Nani. And that’s what counts.”

She had shaken her head, and I had looked up to glance once more at the object of my attention.

But then I had also noticed the well-dressed society matrons who were now making their way towards me from every corner of the room, and I had known that I didn’t have a moment to lose.

“Nani, who is that woman there, in the blue dress?”

My grandmother had followed my glance and smiled, and when she had turned back to me, there was a speculative look on her face that hadn’t been there before.

“The one who is standing by the window?”

“Yes.”

Her eyes had sparkled with an unknown something as she replied, but I was too focused on her answer to notice anything else.

“That is Khushi Kumari Gupta, Madhumati’s niece.”

Khushi.

 

 

I remember thinking that it was a different name, but then I had no more time to think about her at all. The mothers had attacked me from all sides, and I had no idea how much time had passed before I was free to look for her again.

Staring over the heads of all the women who continued to approach me, I  had managed to catch a glimpse of her as she disappeared onto the balcony with a younger woman who appeared to be pulling her along.

Growing tired of the suave, polite mask I was being forced to wear while wishing myself elsewhere, I had made my excuses and hurried after her by a circuitous route, trying  not to make it obvious that I was pursuing her.

In retrospect, that very fact should have raised an alarm in my head…because Arnav Singh Raizada had never pursued a woman before.

Women chased me, that was a fact I had accepted long ago.

And yet, there was no hesitation in my steps as I entered the balcony through another door, only to pause behind a potted palm as a loud, slightly hysterical voice reached my ears.

“I just wish you wouldn’t be so selfish!”

 

 

Risking a quick glance over the fronds of the palm, I had ascertained that the speaker wasn’t the woman I wanted to meet.

In fact, the woman in the blue dress had appeared to be pole-axed by this declaration, and I stepped back against the wall as she had replied in soft, yet shocked tones.

After a few moments though, I felt slightly foolish for hiding here like a peeping tom and eavesdropping  on a private conversation,and so I had decided to go back inside and approach her later.

But her next words stopped me in my tracks.

And you think I’ll have a chance of finding that here? With Arnav Singh Raizada, of all people?”

 

 

The note of derision had frozen me in my place, and I listened with bated breath as she proceeded to butcher my character in the soft, mellifluous voice of hers.

I remember the various emotions that went through me then.

Amazement, at the fact that someone could be here, attending this particular party at my grandmother’s house…and denouncing me as an arrogant jerk.

Didn’t she have the least bit of fear that she could be overheard?

I also remember the fact that my interest level had just risen by several notches, due to the fact that I had found that rarest of rare treasures…a person who spoke their mind, with no regard to consequences.

And finally, I remember the sheer astonishment that swept through me as she voiced her belief that I would never notice her.

Not notice her?

 

She had been all I could think about ever since this party started, and she thought that I wouldn’t notice her?

That had been my first hint towards her insecurities…at the fact that incredible as it seemed, Khushi Kumari Gupta hadn’t been aware of the draw that she held for all men.

I decided to bide my time and see how things developed, and was rewarded for my patience when the other woman left in a storm of  tears.

I had a little time to plan my strategy, and decided that I would go into this with the man-of -the-world mask in place.

And that’s what I had done, eventually. Going in with a glib line and a well-timed bow, I had every intention of playing my role to the hilt.

But things hadn’t gone entirely as I had planned then.

It was when I straightened from the bow that the first surge had hit me, hard.

The slim body, the straight fall of long, dark hair, the hazel eyes…and the Cupid Bow lips had given rise to a wave of desire that stunned me with it’s intensity.

It was then that I first knew that this was different…she was different, somehow.

The  next few minutes that had followed had been some of the most entertaining, intriguing and unexpected ones of my life, and I was frankly astonished that she hadn’t just held her own, but had given back in good measure.

I knew I couldn’t let her go.

I remember the attempts I made to get her to meet me alone, but she was having none of it.

And then, before I had come to terms with any of this, she had turned around and left me there, alone on the balcony of Shantivan.

That hadn’t been the end of that, of course.

Thoughts of her were never far from my mind that evening, and when it was finally time to head for bed, I remember going over to the vast gardens instead.

And it was there that I thought through the whole situation.

When my grandmother had requested me to get married, I had agreed without a second thought. There had never been any doubt in my mind, I knew that I would give her whatever she wanted.

But the actual Raizada bride had still been a nebulous, vague thought until then, and I hadn’t really thought about the woman I wanted as my wife.

Until now.

It had occurred to me that in one single stroke, I could accomplish both goals.

I could give my grandmother the bride she wanted…and I could possess the woman who had almost made me mindless with the lust she had inspired with just one glance.

I had accepted that I had to get married, so why not do this with the woman who was not only approved by my family, but was also the embodiment of all my fantasies?

I had made up my mind, and that was that.

In my professional life, I was known for making quick decisions and swift actions, and this would be no different.

The only question that had remained in my mind was how I was going to accomplish this task, given her low opinion of me.

The playboy persona wouldn’t work, I had known that from my experience on the balcony. Other women might swoon when I flirted, but Khushi Kumari Gupta was obviously made of sterner stuff.

And neither would hearts and flowers, I had known that too.

Behind the beautiful facade, I had sensed a core of steel…a strong, independent woman who would think that such an approach was worthy only of derision.

That had left me with a quandary.

How was I going to get her to marry me?

 

I had then decided that the first order of business would be to get to know her better. I needed to know what her background was, what made her tick…and what ticked her off.

To that end, I had enlisted my grandmother’s help, and NK’s.

By the next day, I had a clearer picture in my head.

I also had a strategy in place.

After I had thought about all that I had found out about her,I had decided to use her weaknesses to get my own way. It was my chosen method when planning  a takeover, and this was no different.

I knew that with the right bait…and with the right amount of persuasion, this deal would be signed and sealed before the end of the next day.

I had made another decision at that point…I wouldn’t acknowledge the simmering attraction between us until this was a done deal. Given her terrible opinion of me, I hadn’t quite known what she would make of it…and I hadn’t been prepared to take that risk. In fact, I had even added that in to the marriage contract, hoping that she would be reassured by the fact that this would be in name only.

I had given a great deal of thought to that contract, and the reasons behind it.

I had never been a great believer in the institution of marriage, and my parent’s disastrous relationship wasn’t solely to blame for that. The whole idea of committing to one woman…giving her free rein over my life…none of these had ever appealed to me.

There was another, more deeply rooted reason too.

Ever since I had first been forced to see what the outside world was like, I had awakened to the clear knowledge that power came to those who were in control of all things…at all times.

Exercising that control over all aspects of my life had undoubtedly contributed to my success, and I never had any plans of giving it up entirely, not to anyone.

 

If I had to get married, I knew that I was going to be on my terms.

I would dictate the nature of the relationship, and the duration. One year seemed sufficient as a testing period, and I had decided that I would leave a clause where both of us could decide to extend this if we found ourselves compatible in all ways.

This would give me the control I sought…and the woman I craved.

But it hadn’t been all about my own selfish desires, not even then. I had decided to aid her in fulfilling her ambitions, something that she had taken great pains to hide from even her own family.

After going over the contract  a few more times, I had made my legal team draw up the final draft.

And then, I had finally approached the woman I was beginning to crave like no other.

I had made sure that we wouldn’t be disturbed, of course. I hadn’t wanted her family to be privy to the fact that there was a contract at all, to everyone, I wanted this to take on the appearance of a traditional arranged marriage like many others.

What I hadn’t counted on was the incredible temptation I had to fight when I had seen her in her home, alone.

 

Her astonishment at my presence, the disbelief when I presented her with the contract, and finally, her rapid-fire questions when she asked me about the reasons and possible loopholes in the contract managed to draw my attention away from the incredible pull she seemed to exert over me.

As I had answered, I had known that my earlier impression had been correct. Khushi was intelligent and shrewd, a woman worthy of the respect I was going to show her from that very day.

What had taken me by surprise was the fact that she hadn’t signed the contract at that very moment.

I had spent the night on tenterhooks, amazing myself by my impatience to know what she had decided.

But when I met her at the cafe, one look into her apprehensive, yet determined eyes had told me that I would have what I wanted, and soon.

 

Her further questioning had surprised me. It had never crossed my mind that I would look elsewhere for the passion that I was sure to find within the bounds of this marriage, and I had hastened to assure her of that fact without giving away my own rampant desire.

Her rejection of the alimony had astounded me.

Not that I had ever seen her as a gold-digger, but this further evidence of her disregard for my fortune only intrigued me more.

But then all thoughts had been driven from my head when she had finally affirmed that she would sign the contract.

She would be mine.

 

The possessiveness that streaked through me should have warned me too.

I look out now at the jam of vehicles around me, and realize that the Limo is stuck in slow-moving traffic.

That thought is fleeting, and my mind takes me back again in time…to our wedding night.

I hadn’t seen her since the time at the cafe, and throughout the wedding day, there had been too much going on to really spend any time in admiring her as she ought to be admired.

But the sight of her in the crimson saree, framed by the evocative image of the bridal bed in the background had almost snapped all the bonds of restraint I had forced upon myself.

Reminding myself to take it slow, I had walked over to her…only to be stopped in my tracks when I recognized that for the first time since I have known her, her gaze held an elusive hint of attraction.

I had known then that I had to bring everything out into the open. The chemistry was too potent, it couldn’t be hidden or brushed away anymore.

And now that she was mine , there was no fear of her backing out of the deal.

Her reaction wasn’t entirely expected, of course. I hadn’t really expected her to throw herself into my arms and let me pull her down to the bed and take her the way I was dying to…but on the other hand, I hadn’t anticipated that she would reject this out of hand.

Mastering the surprise hadn’t been easy, but I had done it. Resolving to be patient, I had even resisted making any move when she had stared at my naked torso with that hint of hunger that inflamed me.

Sleeping next to her had been it’s own exquisite brand of torture. Knowing that she was lying only inches away…that all I had to do was lean over and kiss the protest from her lips before making my way down her body…this was taxing my control to an unprecedented extent. Making an instant decision to get away from her, at least until she was ready to share this bed with me, I had made plans to return to the States the very next day.

And then she had woken up with that drowsy look that instantly put me in mind of sex, and I had ended up questioning her about her sex life.

The color riding high on her cheeks had given me the answer to my question, and I still remember the sense of satisfaction I felt when I realized that I would be the first man to introduce her to the pleasures of passion. It was a primitive emotion, one that I didn’t remember ever feeling before.

Through the days that followed, I regretted my decision of returning to California more than once.

In a moment of clarity, I realized that I wanted to be with her…even if it had nothing to do with the desires that still made me spend restless nights, alone in my penthouse.

When the day of her arrival had come around, I had made the decision to pick her from the airport. It wasn’t really something I needed to do, but I had given myself no time for second thoughts.

It was only when she had silently rejected my offer of my phone and opted for her own that I had belatedly realized that for her, the boundaries were still firmly in place.

While was breaking my own rules, without any care for the consequences.

In an attempt to wrest back control, I had spoken to her about the house I wanted us to move into. Again, I had controlled the choice of residence, although I still wanted her input on the mansion.

I had thought that I had things back on track, but I had been wrong.

One look at her sleeping form with the damp, curling hair framing a pale, beautiful face…and all my restraint had vanished as if it had never been. Confining myself to tracing the outline of those luscious lips had been a feat worthy of an award…because all I had wanted to do at that point was drag the bathrobe aside and fasten my mouth on the pale breasts that I could glimpse through the parting.

Another restless night had followed…with the first in a long, long line of cold showers.

I had strengthened my resolve again, deciding that I would have her…but the time and place would be chosen by me.

The intensity of my passion for her was foremost in my mind as I watched in disbelief as she politely accepted Manorama’s compliment on her appearance the next day. She clearly hadn’t believed a word of it, and I had found myself detailing the ways in which a man…in which found her irresistible.

What I hadn’t anticipated were the way in which she would turn the tables on me.

 

As the memory of her deceptively seductive words come back to me, I shift in the seat, trying to relieve the dull throb that is almost my constant companion whenever I think of her these days.

Yes, she had fooled me then…and I had been a willing victim.

That ought to have warned me too.

Instead, I remember thinking about her throughout my work day, and trying to guess what her reaction might be when she finally saw the home in Menlo Park.

When she finally did, she seemed to like it, and I remember feeling relieved that she does. The interconnected bedrooms didn’t seem to be a problem, either.

I recall the excitement with which I had taken her down to see the horses…and the ego-crushing result of that action.

But now I find myself questioning just why I had been intent on showing off for her.

Had it just been the age-old instinct of the male of the species…or had it been something else?

As I stare outside the window, I know that there should have been alarms going off even then.

We are now on the freeway that leads to Menlo Park, and I realize that my jacket seems to be stifling me.

Shrugging out of it immediately, I remove my cuff-links, then pause.

I remember her doing the same a few days ago, and the memory of her fleeting touches sends another shock-wave of desire through me. That had been an unintended seduction, and that’s not all it had been, either.

There had been concern there as well, a concern that I had thrown back in her face that evening.

And yet, that hadn’t really been my intention.

When she had spoken of the vows, I hadn’t been able to stop myself from reminding her that she wasn’t really acting as if any of this was real.

While it was becoming increasingly important to me that she should…do what, exactly?

I don’t really know the answer to that, not even now.

All I know is that I want her view this marriage as I do…even though I’m not exactly sure what that is, anymore.

Yes, I want her to give in to the raging attraction between us.

Lust still rules my thoughts to a large extent, but it doesn’t explain everything I’ve done since meeting her.

Lust doesn’t explain why I apologized to her about refusing her offer of help, and explained why I had done so.

Lust doesn’t explain why I had spoken to her about my family and my mother’s death, something that I never shared with anyone, ever.

Lust isn’t the reason why I had gone out of my way to take her mind off the fact that she had lost her job…and the fact that her family didn’t seem to give a damn about her.

And lust is sure as hell not why I had been as patient as a Saint when she had come to me for a kiss that night.

That first kiss had scared the hell out of me.

When I had sent her back to her room and allowed myself to think about it that night, I had realized that I had felt much, much more from that simple caress than I should.

I hadn’t been in control, not from the first moment when I had returned her kiss.

I had known then that I had to wrest the reins back, and the only way to do that was to put myself out of the path of temptation until I had myself back in control.

The takeover provided me with the perfect opportunity to do just that, and I had hastened to get out of the house before anything else could happen.

I had laughed at myself, then.

The great ASR, who has now been reduced to fleeing from his own house by his slip of a wife?

 

All laughter had fled when I had seen her again in our dressing-room, and I had busied myself with my clothes in order to avoid thinking about the fact that she had just come here from her warm, tousled bed.

Her indifferent response to the delay in the upcoming party had raised my hackles then. Once again, I found myself wishing that she took this role seriously.

And then I found myself questioning why I wanted that.

I had refused to consider the implications, and instead, I had decided to challenge myself to stay away from her as long as I was able to.

I had known that I could do it, I was convinced that I was in control still.

And I had done it too, keeping myself in the office through the day, and back in my penthouse at night.

I smile to myself now as I remember the exact moment when the restraints had snapped.

It had been the phone call that had done it, the  one where Manorama had  informed me that Khushi was at Pier 39, just ten minutes away from where I was scheduled to have lunch with my team.

And I had found myself heading there, before I could even convince myself of the foolishness of this decision.

It doesn’t seem foolish anymore when I saw her sitting there with the chocolate dripping from her lips.

I had welcomed the blaze of need, this was something I knew, something I was familiar with.

But that moment of relief had been short-lived.

To my own amazement, I had found myself talking about the takeover.

But the fact that I had trusted her enough to do that made me uncomfortable, and I had left soon after that.

Throughout the next few hours, the sense of achievement that I should have been feeling as I had signed the merger paperwork was increasingly overshadowed by thoughts of her.

 

In deliberate defiance, I had stayed out as late as I could before heading home that night, hoping to prove to myself that I could stay away from her if I wanted.

I craved her body, but she did not rule me.

I was still in control.

Or so I had thought, until Di’s unexpected arrival had thrown my plans into disarray.

Being forced to share a bed with her before I was convinced that she was ready wasn’t really what I had in mind, but one look at her sitting there on the bed had overpowered every other thought.

I persuaded her to take things further than just one kiss, and I had been slightly surprised by her almost immediate capitulation.

And then I barely remember anything else, except the fact that I had gone up in flames.

I still cannot believe that I had been so thoroughly seduced by a few, drugging kisses…when we were both fully clothed, no less.

As we turn onto the exit that leads up to the mansion, I look down at my injured hand that had stopped that leisurely exploration in it’s tracks.

If it hadn’t, I would have finally known what it was like to burn in her heat, and take her with me…

But that wasn’t what had happened.

The next few hours had given me some time to process what had just happened, and once again, my lack of control over this entire situation had appalled me.

Seeking to regain control yet again, I had thrown myself into my work the very next morning.

I had barely responded when she had come in to tell me that she was leaving for the University, and I hadn’t seen her since then.

I had thought of her constantly, though.

I wondered what she made of my sudden withdrawal…and then I wondered why it was bothering me.

I have now realized that this entire situation is rapidly spiraling out of my control.

I have been breaking rules, pushing boundaries and throwing aside all caution….without once questioning why.

There have been fore-warnings,many of them.

There have been alarms, but I haven’t heeded them.

Is  lust  no longer really the explanation for all that is happening with me?

Has the thirst for her changed into a thirst for something else…something I’m not ready for?

The limo slides to a smooth halt, and I step out immediately , giving myself no time to think about that very disturbing thought.

My gaze is drawn to a movement on one side of the patio, and I realize that it is Lavanya, leaving for the day.

I give her a brief nod, careful to look away at once and walk on towards the door.

Over the years, I have exercised caution where she is concerned. I know that once, many years ago, she had expressed interest in going out with me. But I hadn’t wanted to take her up on her offer.

We had known each other from my days as a security guard, and I had managed to let her down lightly at the time.

I knew that she was good at what she did, and I had hired her as part of the security at A.R’s corporate headquarters before transferring her to Khushi’s private detail after we were married.

I know that she is professional enough to move past what has happened earlier, but I have also decided to take no chances where she is concerned.

NK wasn’t entirely comfortable with my decision to assign her to Khushi, but I had told him that there was nothing that would make me question my trust in her professional abilities.All that was water under the bridge now, and I treated her as just another employee.

As I walk down the driveway, all thoughts of Lavanya are wiped from my mind.

Unbidden, I walk faster as the door comes into view.

I try to assess what is in my mind, and I recognize anticipation, eagerness…and a loss of control that angers me yet again.

Deliberately, I slow down.

As I open the door and walk through the darkened living-room, I fight back the small voice in my head that tells me that this is a losing battle.

Everything conspires against me.

At every single step, I am reminded of her.

 

Khushi Raizada, my wife of a few weeks.

       

My gaze falls on the staircase, and I remember her nervous tones as she escorted Di and Shyam a few nights ago.

The hallway outside the bedrooms reminds me of her flustered face as I spoke to Di.

And when I allow myself to glance into her open room, the sight of the ivory covers on her bed make me still.

I have forgotten nothing about that night.

The scent and feel and sight of her is seared across my brain, and I quickly turn away to block the memories from coming back now.

After all, there’s only so many cold showers a man can bear.

I open the door that leads to my room, then pause.

Where is she?

Without conscious thought, my feet turn back towards the stairs and I find myself going back onto the main floor.

I look through all the rooms, but she isn’t there.

I am about to give up and call her on her cell-phone when my gaze falls on the sliding door that leads out to the backyard.

Moments later, I am walking down the path that leads to the lawns, and I finally see that my guess was right.

Seated in the gazebo, her face turned up to the clear night sky is my wife, Khushi.

I walk up behind her,  but she doesn’t notice me yet.

I, however, notice everything about her.

The moonlight gilds her unbound hair, and her beautiful profile appears radiant.

Damn.

 

I can’t believe I just said that, even if it is only in my thoughts.

Apart from everything else, is she turning me into a freaking poet now?

 

 

I stride across the gravel that separates me from her in a futile attempt to run from my own thoughts.

And finally, she hears my footsteps.

Her slight shoulders stiffen, then relax as she turns around to face me.

There is no hesitation in her eyes, and I find myself wondering just how she knew it was me.

“Did you just get back?”

The query snaps me out of my introspection, and I seat myself beside her before replying.

“Yes.”

“I saw the press conference on TV. You took Silicon Valley by storm tonight.”

A sense of pride overpowers all else for a moment, but then I shrug in apparent nonchalance.

“It’s all in a  day’s work.”

She smiles, then turns away to face the green expanse of the lawn again.

“Good for you, then.”

Something captures my attention then.

Maybe it’s the hint of melancholy in her tone…or the defeated set of her shoulders…somehow, I know that all is not right in her world.

“Is something wrong?”

She looks up then, and I can almost see the wheels turning in her head as she decides if she wants to confide in me…or not.

And somehow, that decision becomes all important to me.

As I wait for her to speak, my eyes drift towards her lips…something that has become an unconscious habit of mine.

I remember how they felt against mine…and I wonder how they would feel against other parts of me.

Woah.

 

 

I mentally take a step back from the fantasy that has sprung to mind, and shift on the bench to alleviate the discomfort in my trousers.

She parts those tempting lips to speak, and I try to concentrate on her words even as my body wants something else entirely.

This woman is clearly going to be the death of me.

Even as that thought goes through my head , I finally hear her voice.

“I was informed that I couldn’t start with the PhD until the fall term.”

Her voice is low and restrained, yet the pain and disappointment are almost palpable.

Unexpectedly, an ache in my own chest makes me take a step towards her.

Damn.

 

 

 

That probably wasn’t lust either.

“Is there no way around it?”

The question comes out harsher than I intend, and I know that this is solely a result of the extraordinary control that I have to exercise in order to stop myself from going up to her, pulling her into an embrace and telling her that will make things right.
If there’s one thing that I have learned about my wife in all these weeks, it is that she takes her independence very seriously. In fact, I sometimes find myself wondering just how she initially agreed to this marriage at  all.
However, now is not the time to pursue that train of thought.
I watch as she slowly shakes her head, sadness clouding over those hazel eyes .
“No. The advisor told me that they were very impressed with my resume and would have given me a chance if it were possible, but the department recently lost a source of funding and in the absence of a new grant, they have no other option except asking me to wait and reapply for the Fall term.”
Something she has just said sends my brain into overdrive, and I speak before I can think things through.
“And that’s all that’s stopping them from letting you start? If a new grant is all that is needed, then A.R.Corp will be their new benefactor. It’s that easy, really.”
Flashing hazel eyes turn to mine, and for one instant, I am glad that the sadness has been banished, even though I know that the anger is directed at me.
“No, thank you. I thought you gave me your word that you wouldn’t interfere with my career?”
“And I won’t. I’ll just give them the funds they need, but I will not stipulate that you should be hired. If they take you on, it will be because you are capable and deserve it, that’s all.”
She takes a deep breath.
“It won’t work that way. Sooner or later, they’ll find out that I’m married to you, make the connection between the grant and the PhD, and offer it to me as their way of expressing their gratitude to you. They would feel bound to do so, and you know that!”
I run a frustrated hand through my hair.
“So what if they do? Damn it all, woman, do you want this PhD, or not?”
The hazel eyes are blazing now, and yet, the only thought that runs through my mind is that she is exquisite in her anger.
“I do want it, more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. But I’ll be the one who makes it happen!”
It is my turn to take a deep breath now.
Her stubborn persistence has reminded me of a question that has always been at the back of my mind.
“Just answer this, Khushi. If this offer was being made by another man…someone whom you had married of your own volition and not through a legal contract, would you still refuse his help?”
Her gaze slides away for a moment, and then she replies in a soft, low voice.
“Yes.”
But I have my answer already, and it lies in the small hesitation before that softly voiced word.
“I don’t think you would, Khushi. I think that the bigger problem here is that you just aren’t comfortable with taking my help.”
This time, her gaze holds mine.
“I…I don’t…”
I walk forward until I am an arm’s length away, then take her hand in mine.
The smooth texture and delicate feel of her fingers derail my thoughts for a moment, but then I remind myself that the stakes are higher at the moment.
“Why am I any different from any other hypothetical husband, Khushi? Why is this marriage not real to you yet?”
She draws her hand away, and I feel the loss immediately.
“Because it isn’t! This is only going to last for a year, and I don’t want to be indebted to you even after we have gone our separate ways!”
That ache in my chest is back again, and I find myself wondering if there’s something wrong with me.
Her words have forcibly reminded me of yet another fact that I’ve been trying to ignore, but it’s time to bring everything out into the open now.
“The contract also says that if we both want it to be so, we can continue to stay married to each other after a year, Khushi.When I signed that, I meant it. And so far, I’ve seen no reason to change my mind. The real question is, have you?”
“What…what do you mean?”
“I’m talking about being your being married to an arrogant, womanizing jerk. Is that still how you think of me? Is that the reason why you are here , in my home, and yet you don’t really treat it as such?”
“I…”
“Do you really think I haven’t noticed all this? I have, Khushi. I have seen how you still hesitate before asking Manorama for anything. How you barely seem to care about the party that is going to be held in your home, to celebrate your marriage. You even shop for all your personal necessities, as if you don’t wish to burden me more than is strictly necessary. It’s all this, and a million other things..and I’ve noticed all of them. And it tells me a lot, about the way you view this marriage, for instance. You really don’t  want to give this a chance, do you? You don’t even want to take that first step towards getting comfortable in your new home, with your new husband…and that makes me wonder if you were serious about that clause at all. Did you ever really intend to try and make this work beyond the one year time frame? That’s what I really want to know.”
Myriad emotions pass in quick succession through those beautiful hazel eyes, but finally, I see a clear, honest gaze and I know that I am going to hear the unvarnished truth.
“No. I didn’t really give it much thought.”
I try not to let the shock show in my expression.
“I guessed as much. So this is still a one year thing for you, is it? That explains why you shy away from giving in to the chemistry, as well.”
Her cheeks flood with color, but she looks back at me with a steady gaze.
“It’s…not just that. I…you and I…we are very different people. I just didn’t think we can…”
“But how would you know that if you never stepped out of your comfort zone and took a chance on this?”
Once again, anger colors the hazel.
Comfort zone?! Just what do you think last night was about, then?”
Before I can take in the accusing words, she steps back and crosses her arms over her chest in a defensive gesture before continuing.
“And every time I step out of the so-called comfort zone, what do I get in return? I get a husband who is almost non-existent!”
Damn.
 
 
I knew that someday, my withdrawal would come back to haunt me, and now it has.
How am I going to explain this to her?
 
 
I know that I am going to have to stick to the truth, or as close to it as possible. This is too important for me to do otherwise.
And yet, a large part of me wants to step back from this entire conversation and get back into a place where I am in control again.
Mastering that impulse, I look back at her steadily.
“Have you ever thought that there might be a reason behind that? That I might have been taken by surprise by what we unleashed between us and needed some time to come to terms with it?”
A scornful light enters her eyes.
“Give me a break. Can’t you come up with a better excuse? Or do you think I’m gullible enough to believe that a playboy like was taken by surprise by what happened between us?”
My own anger rises in response, and I struggle to keep a lid on my temper.
“So we’re back to the playboy thing, are we? Do you think you’ll ever stop throwing that  in my face?”
“How can I, when I’ve driven myself crazy wondering if you are comparing me with all the women who’ve come before?!”
The words are barely out of her mouth before she clamps a hand over her lips, and I know that this isn’t something she wanted me to know.
Appalled, I can only stare for a moment .
Never in my wildest dreams have I realized that she has this view on what has occurred between us.
But then I remind myself that she is also the most insecure gorgeous woman I’ve met, and it all makes sense.
The anger ebbs away, and I know that I need to get her to understand that what we have between us is unique.
But to do that, a few unpalatable truths need to come out first.
I walk up to her again and draw her hand into mine for the second time tonight.
“Khushi, I need to you to listen…and listen well. There are some things about me that you need to know, and I am just beginning to realize that we should have had this conversation earlier.”
She pulls her hand away, then steps back for good measure.
“If you are going to give me a full rundown of every woman who has passed through your life, then save it. I’m not interested.”
Her glittering eyes tell me another story , though.
My answer is important to her, and I berate myself for not clearing things up earlier.
“This is  about my past, Khushi. I know that this might not really be what a new wife wants to hear, but I did promise that I would be honest…and you need to know this.”
Slowly, gently, I take her hand between both of mine, and rub soothing circles along her palm as I continue.
“When Silicon Valley gave me my first success, I did go a little crazy with all that money at my disposal. I tried to spend it on my family, but they refused, as I have already told you. And it was then that I realized that for the first time in years, I was free. Free from working sixteen-hour jobs and saving every cent…free from wondering if I would ever make it big. That freedom needed to be celebrated, and I did just that. Over the next year or so, there were…affairs, short-lived ones where both partners knew the score and walked away after it ended with no hard feelings. After a while, though, I realized that this no longer held any appeal for me. And then I…”
“…decided to get married?”
A wry smile fights it’s way across my face as I register the disbelief that is still evident in her eyes.
“No. This was more than a year ago. I was tired of the ever-changing partners…the tabloid coverage…it all got too much, and suddenly, I didn’t want that anymore.”
“Are you trying to tell me that you’ve been…celibate for a year now?”
“Not really. There was one other woman during that time. We lasted for a few months, and then decided to amicably split up before the boredom set in. It was a few months after that when Nani made her request, and I agreed to give her what she wanted.”
She looks away for a moment, and I wonder if I have damned myself in her eyes forever.
And  yet, I know that this couldn’t be hidden forever.
“Khushi…none of this is really news to you, is it? After all, you denounced me for it before we ever met.”
Her eyes fly up to mine, and I know that she is thinking about that time on the balcony of Shantivan too.
“I did, and I won’t apologize for it.”
“And neither do I want to apologize for my past, Khushi. It is what it is, and I can’t change it. But the point is that, it really is the past. It has nothing to do with this marriage, and…”
“How can you possibly say that?! Whenever we…get intimate, the only thing I can think about is that you have done this a million times before, while I have never…how am I supposed to forget that?”
 
 
The anguish in her eyes makes me lose all my carefully tended control, and I grasp her upper arms and haul her close.
“You are supposed to forget it, because have! Because when I kiss you, it’s beyond anything I’ve ever felt before! And I know that when we finally have sex, it’s going to obliterate anything I’ve ever felt or imagined or fantasized about! I know that what we could have together is going to be unimaginably good, it’s one of the reasons I married you in the first place!”
As her eyes widen in shock, I realize that I have said more than I intended to at this point.
It’s too late for damage control though.
What? But…you married me because your grandmother wanted you to! And…and you told me that the…the attraction came later!”
She is fighting against my hold now, but I gentle my grip and pull her even close.
“The attraction was what first drew me to you, Khushi. Everything else came later. I’m sorry I wasn’t upfront about that from the very beginning, but can you honestly say that you would have given me the chance to propose marriage if I had been honest then?”
I watch as the truth registers , and her innate honesty forces her to answer,
“I…no, I don’t think so. But then the contract…”
“I made that contract with you because I was attracted to you, and no one else. And that contract says that we can stay in this for more than a year, Khushi. It’s up to us to make this marriage into what we want it to be. I want to take things further, to see where this goes. And if there’s anything that stops you from doing the same, I want to know what that is.”
She frees herself from my arms, and a wary look enters her eyes.
“I’ve just learned that the entire basis of this marriage wasn’t exactly what I thought it was. The fact that I understand now why you did it doesn’t really excuse the falsehoods.”
I take another deep breath.
“Will it help if I promise not to keep anything from you from this point on?”
She stares at me for a long, long moment, then finally gives a small nod.
“I will try to do that too.”
I catch the edge of apprehension in her tone, and my heart swells with pride for this woman who has the courage to take all this in stride.
“Khushi…what we have between us is rare. We owe it to each other to give it a chance. And just so you know the whole deal, I will reiterate what I can offer you. I can give you my fidelity, and my respect…”
I gesture towards the mansion.
“…I can give you all this, and more. You already know that I will support you career. This marriage will give you all this. Most marriages have less, you know.”
At that, her chin goes up.
“That’s a presumptuous thing to say.”
She says nothing else, but the lightening of her eyes tells me that the danger is past…for tonight, at least.
I take her in my arms again.
“I never claimed to be less  arrogant, you know.”
A slow smile curves those delectable lips.
“I know I’m going to regret saying this, but that arrogance is kind of growing on me.”
I laugh, then lean my forehead against hers.
“So do we have a truce?”
“I wasn’t aware that we were at war.”
I lean back slightly to look into her eyes.
“I’m warring within myself right now with the urge to kiss you senseless.”
She laughs again, then pulls out of my  arms with a shake of her head.
“That is best left for another night. I’ve got a lot to think about.”
I nod, then follow her as she walks towards the house.
And all the time, that dull ache is steadily being vanquished by the echo of what she has just said.
Another night…
 
 
Yes, there will be other nights.
And I will be waiting for them with bated breath.
I am in bigger trouble that I realized.
To take my mind off the tangent it keeps going off on, I cast about for an innocuous topic.
“So…if you aren’t joining the university, have you thought about what you are going to do for the next three months?”
She opens the front-door and heads towards the staircase before replying.
“I’ve given it some thought, and I think that I will start working on possible subjects for my doctoral thesis. If I have narrowed that down, then it will make things easier when I finally join and have an advisor assigned to me.”
“Can you do that from home?”
We have reached the hallway outside our bedrooms now, and she stops, then turns to face me.
“Not really. I’ll have to use the library at Stanford.”
“I see.”
After that brilliant reply, I realize that I don’t quite know what to say.
I don’t want her to leave, and that thought disturbs me.
“I…guess I’ll say goodnight.”
She stares at me for a moment, and then turns away when there is no reply.
I know that I should let her go.
She has asked to take things slow, and I should respect that.
Sighing with sheer exhaustion, I turn away then.
But the very next moment, something snaps within me.
I turn back towards her, and before I can rethink my decision, I have her in my arms and pushed up against the wall, my lips fastening on hers with all the desperation borne of a craving that is beyond my experience.
Even now, I might have been satisfied with just one taste.
Except, she responds at once with her own fire and passion, and then there is no more hope.
Winding her arms around my neck, she pulls me down until we  are plastered against each other.
Several things hit me at once.
I feel the tight buds of her nipples against my chest, just as the delicate flavor of her mouth explodes across my tongue. My hands mold her body to mine as I restlessly caress her hips, and I know from her shocked gasp that she knows just how aroused I am at the moment.
The kiss turns wild, uncontrolled.
 For a moment, I think about the possibility of winding her legs around my waist and taking her up against this very wall.
Sanity returns for a moment as I realize that this is really no way to initiate her to the pleasures of passion.
She deserves a long, slow, thorough loving…not a frantic mating in a corridor.
Marshaling all my reserves, I tear my mouth from hers and rest my forehead against hers as we try to steady our breathing.
“Go out with me tomorrow. For dinner.”
I don’t know where the words have come from, and from her surprised expression, she is wondering the same.
“What?”
“I want to take you out to dinner. Say yes.”
She stares at me for a long moment, then steps aside and enters her bedroom.
Just as my spirits begin to plummet, she turns back one last time.
“Yes.”
Throughout the long night that follows and the even longer day that comes next, I go back and forth between congratulating myself for taking a step forward with my wife, and berating myself for my stupidity.
Because I have had time to think about all that I have told her last night, and I the fact that I  have made myself so vulnerable to her is driving me crazy.
This is no way to regain control of the situation, and I don’t quite know what the hell I am doing here.
I try to lose myself in work, and accomplish that until it is time to join Khushi as we drive down in the limo to the exclusive French restaurant I have chosen for tonight. I have sent Dhruv to pick her from Menlo Park, and I try to stop myself from racing down to meet her when he phones to tell me that they have arrived.
Control.
That needs to be my mantra for tonight.
I can’t afford to give away more than I already have at this point, and I have to keep my head in the game.
But all my warnings seem to be in vain, because the first glimpse of her drives every other thought from my mind.
Dressed in a burgundy silk top paired with trousers in a dark fabric, she looks good enough to eat. Her hair is pulled into a knot at the nape of her neck, and my fingers itch to release it from it’s confines.
Damn it, what was that mantra again?
 
 
She smiles, and that train of thought goes out of the window too.
“So where are we going tonight?”
I tell her, and her eyes widen.
“You mean…the famous French Bistro in Union Square?”
“Yes. The owner is  a friend, and I like his menu.”
She sighs, and settles back into her seat for the short drive.
I drink her in, and neither of us says anything more until we arrive at the restaurant. Dhruv drops us off a few feet away from the entrance, but the sight of  a crowd gathered around a black limo makes me pause.
Khushi, however, has no such reservations.
“Oh my God, do you think that’s a celebrity?”
She walks forward to get a better view, just as the limo pulls away from the entrance.
I see the danger and react immediately, but it’s too late.
The gathered mob of paparazzi hasn’t yet had the chance to disperse, and one of them turns around and spots me.
Immediately, I grasp Khushi by the waist and turn back the way we came in, the phone already at my ear as I call Dhruv.
“Isn’t that Raizada?”
“Who’s the new woman, Mr.Raizada?”
“Is she from India?”
The questions fly thick and fast, but I keep my head down and refuse to answer any of them,pulling Khushi along with me until the silver limo swerves back onto the road. Khushi steps inside and I seat myself behind her, and we’re off.
I look behind me and realize that the journalists are now taking pictures of our departing car.
“I’m sorry, ASR, I should have seen them…”
“It’s not your fault, Dhruv. I should have realized that this particular place comes with it’s own risks…”
I look back at Khushi, who is now white-faced and trembling with delayed reaction.
I pull her into my arms, then hold her there until she calms down.
“I’m sorry, Khushi.”
“It’s…fine. I guess I’ll have to get used to it.”
“We’ll head home, you can relax.”
At that, she looks up at me.
“But I’m hungry.”
I almost smile at the effort she’s making to appear nonchalant.
“We can order takeout.”
“But…this was supposed to be a dinner-date.”
I smile down at her.
“And so it was. What do you think we should do?”
She smiles too, and tells me.
A short while later, I find myself laughing as I loosen my tie, then throw it aside entirely.
The atmosphere in the crowded Mexican fast-food restaurant where we have just finished eating certainly doesn’t not call for black-tie. It is chaotic and noisy and I have to yell to make myself heard above the loud music…and yet, I can’t recall a more enjoyable dinner in years.
I call for the bill, and we leave the restaurant with my arm around her shoulders.
She is silent now as we walk  towards the limo, and this is in stark contrast to the animated conversation while we ate. She had spoken about food, and more food. In that short time, I had managed to find out all her culinary likes and dislikes, and she had asked me about all the world cuisines I had sampled.
But now, as we seat ourselves inside the car, silence reigns supreme.
As Dhruv starts driving, I press the button that sends the privacy screen up between the driver and the passengers.
When I look back at her, she is staring at me with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation that instantly sets my blood on fire.
I reach for her, at the exact moment when her phone rings.
For a moment, neither of us responds.
Caught in a sensual web, we stare at each other for a moment before she finally sighs, then reaches into her handbag for her phone.
“Payal?”
I look out the window, trying not to eavesdrop any more than I have to.
But Khushi’s shocked gasp draws my eyes back to her.
“You…what? Are you sure?”
 
 
There is a pause, and then Khushi starts reassuring her sister about something. After a few more minutes, she is apparently successful because she finally cuts the call, the turns to face me.
“Is something wrong?”
“That…that was Payal. She…she was calling me to…ask Amma to reschedule her wedding.”
“But why?”
“She…it needs to be  held now, not after three months!”
Alarmed by the slightly hysterical tone in her voice, I pull her into my arms and rub soothing circles on her back.
“Calm down. If she wants to get married now, we’ll make it happen. It’s no big deal.”
Terrified eyes look into mine.
“It is a big deal! She’s pregnant!”
Staring down at her, I continue the calming motions.
“That’s still not an insurmountable problem. If we rearrange things quickly, no one will ever find out.”
She leans back against the seat, then places a hand against her forehead.
“It’s not just that, don’t you understand? This is my little sister! And to imagine that she…and without being married…I can’t believe this!”
“It’s been known to happen, Khushi. This isn’t the end of the world. We’ll handle this.”
But even as I say the words, something else she has said earlier comes back to me.
Our differing reactions to this news makes me realize that she was right, after all. We are two very different people, and our perspectives will always be worlds apart.
And yet, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to bridge the gap.
I sigh.
If I ever thought that this was just lust, then I was a bigger fool than I had ever imagined.
**********************
 A/N:

 
 
Happy women’s day!
 
I do hope you liked reading things from Arnav’s perspective. 
From Chapter Six, Khushi will continue with her side of things, but Arnav will come back in a few chapters down the line.
 
Chapter Six will be posted by next weekend.
 
 
If you do choose to comment, you can do so right here after the update on the blog.
 
If you wish to comment on the forum, here is the link to the second thread of the ‘Baaraatis’ CC for all my readers:
 
 
 
 
Thank you all for reading!
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241 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Saiasmi
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 18:21:39

    Wow! The story sure has come a long way in 1 chapter!
    ASR sure had an ulterior motive as suspected.. and am so glad… the contract is just a farce to get time to woo her 🙂

    lavanya angle too was kinda like suspected :-).. but for now seems like its of no consequence.

    Where does NK fit in,still unsure.. so will still reserve comments on that character for now!

    Like

    Reply

  2. nccrwrt
    Mar 06, 2017 @ 02:44:32

    This chapter was like a roller coaster ride. Very nicely written! I love this FF!

    Like

    Reply

  3. sansid123
    Mar 02, 2017 @ 13:41:18

    this arnav is every womens fanatasy

    Like

    Reply

  4. mahrusweety
    Nov 15, 2016 @ 16:37:54

    Awesome update.
    Loved the confession arnav make regarding contract Nd marriage.
    Paysl is flying very high hope everything stays fine

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Monica
    Aug 18, 2016 @ 03:52:37

    Awesome to read Arnav’s POV- who would have thought so much was going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. Bibliobibulus
    Feb 24, 2016 @ 17:41:41

    Awww, he was smitten from the first glimpse of her.. Liked reading Arnav’s point of view..

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. scrapbooker10019
    Oct 17, 2015 @ 18:42:16

    Loved this glimpse into Arnav’s mind… No milquetoast emotions for our guy! Love the fact that he prides himself on his ability to control everything/one around him… and simultaneously keeps having to remind himself of the same because he has none.

    Communication is the key to any successful relationship… So glad he cleared the air with her. I hate unnecessary misunderstandings. I have read this story before… I can t believe I am enjoying myself so much all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. jasbinji
    Apr 29, 2015 @ 16:38:50

    That was awesome
    Loved the way they had the conversation and had truce
    Now all thefeelings are in front

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. kathyarsh
    Dec 02, 2014 @ 01:50:53

    I want to take you out to dinner. Say
    yes.”
    She stares at me for a long moment,
    then steps aside and enters her
    bedroom.
    Just as my spirits begin to plummet,
    she turns back one last time.
    “Yes.”
    i luvd ths dialogue !!! N i luuuuuuvd his mantra !! Wat was it… Ahhh CONTROL !! I wish he rlly had som !!! :p awwsome update !!! I cant beliv im not able convey all my thots now !! I thot of readin atleast one mre chap agn but the low battry had took a toll on me !! Im rlly running outta tym ! 😦 agn i hav to wait for anthr full day coz i’ll only get to read tomorw morng 😥 i wish i had mre tym !! The story was gong interestin !!! 😥 but i shall get my chance sooooon 🙂 stay blssd ! Luv ya loads
    -kitty

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. bluemystique
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 19:54:44

    Arnav, Ridz here. There was never any doubt that you are a fool. But you are an adorable fool that makes me blush like a phool.

    Now that the quota of my embarrassingly lame poems are over. Juju! I loved getting a glimpse into the not-so-foolish mind of Arnav Singh Raizada. He’s a shatir dimag, I have to accept that. He saw, he liked, he conquered.

    He is also a fool when it comes to emotions though. He is already in love, and doesn’t only not know it, but is trying to control the emotion that no one even understands or can find words to explain.

    I loved that he is more receptive to extending the marriage than she is. We so rarely find a story where Arnav is the one who wants to get married or stay married, and where Khushi is the one with the doubts. I like that.

    Their dinner date was brilliant as well. It showed that Arnav is not a snob, which I also like.

    I also love the fact that he’s honest with her. Again, a rarity. Even though he wants control over the situation, he doesn’t gain it by manipulating her, which is such a nice quality.

    And say what!? Payal!? Honestly girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. namendra60
    May 27, 2014 @ 10:16:55

    Strange to read Arnav’s POV. Opened a few facts, he is not as sure of himself as he makes it out to Khushi. His blow-hot blow-cold behaviour is that confusion showing.And it was actually love(lust) at first sight for him.
    With these disclosures, Khushi comes out as being more mature & collected about her feelings for her husband & for her family. Now that they are planning to take their marriage to the next level, we have Payal’s marriage as a spoiler.Without Aman actually being in this story much, a lot of Aman like moments are making up for it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  12. srilathalolla
    May 01, 2014 @ 12:10:53

    Wow Arnav is a chupa rustum. Arnav is deeply in love with Khushi but he is not able to accept the fact. He wants Khushi to give a chance to their relationship. Nice update

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. JoJo21
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 06:11:04

    What a crazy 4 parts! Such a diverse compilation, we went from anger, jealousy, love (they don’t know it yet), and fear in so many ways. You’ve created a great couple here and their relationship is developing into one that can last a lifetime. And despite Payal’s attempts (DID NOT EXPECT THAT ONE) they stuck together, after ALL of that he leaves? honestly all I could think was “WHAT THE HELL?” I hope he comes to realize his love for Khushi and doesn’t remain distant. Sigh…that’s all I have for you. Thank you for your updates during a crazy asli duniya.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  14. Latha
    Apr 21, 2014 @ 01:03:44

    Surprised with Arnavs truth but I Am glad that he came clean with
    khushi.
    payal seems to surprise me every time.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  15. Gullam
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 04:24:21

    Lov arnav pau…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  16. learnaboutquilting
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 02:50:21

    Well hope this works.

    I am glad he has come out clean with her that way at least she does not feel that all this has to end someday and give their marriage a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  17. Shahra Kiadeh (@papercut_blues)
    Mar 17, 2014 @ 10:58:16

    Hello Expel (should I call you that? An odd meaning to associate with a name to call someone by, even as it comes from a longer namesake!)

    I got recommended to this story from IF, and this chapter is how far I could read before having to comment – I assumed rather in vain I would do it only after I caught up with all posted thus far – but I had to, because the question begged to be asked! Is it me, or do any of your other readers/you yourself, as the writer, find some impression of Butler in the making of Arnav? It was fleeting and vague upto chapter4, but this latest chapter that I just finished reading brings distinction to my idea.

    Which mostly goes on to say, it’s hard to escape his presence, haha! Which also goes to say I’m glad to read an impression that isn’t going for another Darcy fancy. (Nothing on Darcy, or Austen, but from the little or much of Arnav I read in FF’s, he’s a default favourite!)

    Anywhoo. The story is engaging, because there’s the permanent undercurrent between these protagonists that more than makes up for the (intentional) lack of cliffhangers! I’d call it UST, but Arnav is already becoming wiser than that, and discovering that hardly cuts what they have.

    Going to catch up on Chapter6 soon – although maybe I should drag it out to the point of your next update for my own sake – but had to drop in a comment and let you know, a new reader is aboard. An all pumped up to watch where you take these two from here.

    Cheers,
    Shae (I go as Scheherazade. on IF, but you’re far from likely to know, because I barely show! And that rhymed, rather the juvenile way.)

    Liked by 2 people

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  18. Arilip
    Mar 15, 2014 @ 23:07:19

    Loved Arnav’s pov ….hummm so he was attracted n was clean bold in first sight….

    That fool thought lust n is reassuring her abt Payal’s pregnancy :-))………

    Liked by 1 person

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  19. Anonymous
    Mar 15, 2014 @ 17:21:27

    Loved the update…..and wow khushi too reciprocates the feeling, loved her possessive side…….and arnav is such a charmer……..looking forwrd for the next update

    Liked by 1 person

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  20. sarahjac12
    Mar 15, 2014 @ 10:09:48

    Oh I am terribly late in catching up…..
    Loved the update…. So our Mr. Raizada already had a thing for a mere mortal
    Love errr attraction at first sight?

    I wouldn’t blame Khushi for not taking this marriage seriously, it was always a deal for her. With Arnav’s revelations, I think she has a lot to think about and it would not be easy for her to just chuck the very basic idea of why she got into this marriage in the first place and replace it with the new found knowledge that this contract could be a real thing

    Liked by 1 person

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  21. fats237
    Mar 14, 2014 @ 18:24:06

    Fantastic update hun
    Now khushi knows the truth.
    looking forward to see how khushi copes.
    im glad arnav has become aware that its not lust.
    looking forward to the next chapter

    Liked by 1 person

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  22. aishaqaiser
    Mar 14, 2014 @ 12:33:16

    Absolutely superb update as ever..
    Loved reading arnav pov…his nonchalance attitude left me puzzled earlier…bt he’s definitely affected!!!!
    Waiting 4 next….want to read khushi’s pov regarding their convo…

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. aayt
    Mar 14, 2014 @ 03:29:32

    this chap was awesome i was eager n impatient for Arnav’s POV it explained a lot what made him to propose her attraction towards her at first sight their his much more then lust n liking he underestimated her power over his feeling glad he came clean expressed his desire intentions khushi too had her chance to know what she has in all this their first date it was all done beautifully
    great job dear

    Liked by 1 person

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  24. Tiramisu_coffee
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 18:07:30

    Even though all 4 chapters were amazing, the fifth one was the bomb!! I like mystery around my man but such sinful thoughts are meant to be shared 😉 … Awesome job!!

    Liked by 1 person

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  25. Parimaap
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 12:28:25

    Amazing update provides the insight of arnav’s heart

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  26. never6efore
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 09:49:21

    I forgot to say earlier…I love that Arnav was honest about what he wanted for their marriage…for a man that doesn’t believe in it, is worried about retaining control, and isn’t great at communicating such things, he did wonderfully…intentional or not! And I love that Khushi came clean about her insecurities…intentional or not!

    Let the good times in their marriage roll! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  27. Roma
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 08:29:07

    wow…that was just amazing….I just loved the battle he is waging with himself was just beautifully written…loved it

    Liked by 1 person

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  28. never6efore
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 06:31:00

    Wow! He has fallen hook, line and sinker for her on one encounter!! It didn’t take long for the lust to morph into something else so he subconsciously wants what a more serious relationship has to offer.

    And all that lust totally explains why he comes across so crass at times…he is absolutely desperate!! And I have to say it’s hilarious!!

    I totally loved reading Arnav’s point of view. We rarely ever get to see how a man’s mind works…I’m glad to see that there are no surprises…90% is filled with salacious thoughts!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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  29. sarun22
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 03:47:05

    Read this again….and i am loving this arnav after going through his perspective…..he is ready to give a chance to his relationship with khushi his honesty, fidelty and all…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  30. seetanaips
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 02:28:38

    Arnav’s POV was totally fascinating
    Definitely found out what makes him tick
    so he was attracted to her on sight, no wonder he made sure they married and the sexual pull for both is astounding
    cant wait for the next update

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  31. Vanita
    Mar 13, 2014 @ 01:19:11

    Loved the way things are going between arshi 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  32. aquagal01
    Mar 12, 2014 @ 09:32:20

    Reply

  33. aquagal01
    Mar 12, 2014 @ 09:30:43

    I loved reading Arnav’s POV. I was right in thinking that it wasn’t the idea of marriage alone which attracted Arnav towards Khushi, it was she as the complete package herself. Here he was falling more hard for her with their every meeting and here she was thinking why a businessman like him will notice her!! That’s life. Sometimes people underestimate themselves even when they are too good. Arnav & Khushi make a beautiful combination both blessed with beauty and brains.
    It’s good that Arnav told her what he didn’t mean to tell her that the clause was added as an after-thought, the attraction was there from the beginning to make her agree for the marriage and he intends to keep this marriage beyond a year. He may not have said anything related to love but still he told her enough to earn some trust and respect.
    Arnav is right – wall can be kept for some other time. First time needs all the love , tenderness and precision Khushi deserves. Loved it.
    I’m not able to post pics in the comment. Please enable it… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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  34. shrutee27
    Mar 12, 2014 @ 07:06:36

    ASR is floored by his wife 😉 I loved their talk and how they are now moving forward. I’m damn curious to know how these two fare ahead. Payal is so self centered and petty I must say, I wish she realises that the world doesn’t revolve to her whims and I wish Khushi isn’t dragged along with her madness anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  35. Veil_of_roses
    Mar 12, 2014 @ 03:16:58

    Love interaction b/w Khushi & Arnav… Love Arnav POV… Will wait for next update..seems Khushi will be going to India soon with Arnav of course for Payash wedding…

    Liked by 1 person

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