Abhi kept staring at Nikki whose head was on his shoulder, her eyes shut and a happy and blissful smile on her lips. She was looking sensuously gorgeous and he was overcome with the urge to kiss her. Tenderly he ran his index finger over her face and smiled as she moved her face delighting in the rhythm of his caress
He then put his fingers under her chin and gently pushed it up towards him. Nikki opened her eyes and smiled at him.
"Nikki there is a reason I brought you here.today,“ he told her. “After today we either go to heaven or back to hell!"
A confused Nikki looked questioningly at him.
"Nikki we've both made a lot of mistakes and suffered for it too,” He said in a soft tone. “These past few days made me realise no matter what hurdles we face, no matter the anger we experience, in our hearts we will always have a special place for each other.”
Nikki shook her head and looked at him with eyes brimming with love. His hand was warm against her jaw as he lowered his face and kissed her on the forehead. He then looked into her eyes and Nikki saw desire burning in them.
“Nikki.....” he whispered, his voice was passionately heavy. “Nikki, I.....”
A knock on the window startled them and away from each other. When Abhi rolled down his window, they were shocked to see a shivering Simi standing there.
“Oh my God Abhi! I saw your car pass by when I was standing at the last stop," she was panting heavily. There eyes filled with disappointment and puzzlement, Abhi and Nikki stared at her, both, too stunned to speak.
"Can I get into the car? I am shivering.” Simi pleaded.
"Of course," Abhi said. He turned behind and opened the door of the car for her. He looked dismayed at Nikki
"I wanted to see the different points, but, Dad, Uncle, Aunty were tired," Simi said, oblivious to the despair of the couple. "So, they got dropped off at the house while, I got the driver to drive me up here,” she paused to catch a breath and then said, “However, the car broke down just before the last stop point. While I was there I saw your car pass by and tried waving to you, but you did not see me. So I walked all the way here, hoping to catch you.”
Abhi and Nikki were unhappy and miserable.
“I am really sorry to disturb you both,” Simi said.
"No its okay," Abhi told her weakly. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah I am fine now!"
Simi was the only one doing the talking on the drive back to the house. The other two were too upset to say anything. When they reached the house, the others were happy to see them. However, seeing Simi enter along with Abhi and Nikki, Adi’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. He looked at Sheetal and saw the annoyance on her face too. After Simi related how she got stuck and found Abhi and Nikki, Adi doubted it was an innocent intrusion as she was making it out to be. He glanced at Abhi and Nikki and seeing their upset faces, he realized their plan had failed.
The rest of the evening was spent with the group. While Simi, Maya and Sr. Puri retired to bed, Dr. Chopra and the rest decided to watch a movie.
As Adi, Sheetal and Nikki sat down on the wider settee, Abhi put the DVD into the player. When he stood and looked for a place to sit, Adi pulled Sheetal closer towards him and after asking Nikki to shift closer to Sheetal, he invited Abhi to sit with them. Sitting beside Nikki, he stretched his hand over the headrest. Nikki hid her smile as she was enjoying the warmth of his nearness.
Sometime during the movie, Adi and Abhi were surprised to find their respective lady love had snuggled into them. They looked closely at them and saw they were in deep sleep, exhaustion having overtaken them. They noitced Dr. Chopra had also fallen asleep on the lounger. They exchanged amused smiles and then carried their ladies to their rooms.
Putting Nikki down on the bed, Abhi leaned closer to her and brushed the strand of hair falling over her face. Watching her sleeping peacefully, his heart melted and he smiled tenderly.
“Sweet Dreams My Sleeping Beauty” he whispered
“Hmmm” murmured Nikki in her sleep.
Abhi shook his head in amusement and then kissed her forehead tenderly. He then switched of the light and left the room, shutting it behind him.
In the morning, Nikki was surprised to find herself in her room. The last she remembered she was watching a movie with the rest. When did she come into her room?" she wondered. She then shook her head and reminsced on the sweet dream she had
Abhi kissing her on her forehead, whispering ‘Goodnight, my Sleeping Beauty’ Hmmm, how romantic! Will she ever get to see this side of his! she sighed
If only she knew it wasn’t a dream!
Next day, after lunch they decide to head back home to Mumbai. Having Simi in their car this time, made things pretty prickly for them. The flow of conversation and jokes wasn’t as easy as it was on their way to Lonavla.
They arrived at Nikki’s place. This time, to Nikki’s surprise, this time along with Adi, even Abhi got off. Seeing Abhi had gotten off, Adi grinned and standing at his side of the door, watched the two.
“Bye” they say together again. They smile. Blurting out the same thing together seemed to be becoming a habit with them.
When Nikki passed him, Abhi's soft whisper of her name made her stop and look questioningly at him.
“Can we do dinner tomorrow? Just you and Me?” he asked in a low tone.
Nikki tried not to show her surprise “Yeah, that should be fine,” She confirmed with a smile. He looked happy and smiled back. “Okay then, we’ll co-ordinate on this tomorrow, Bye”
The whole of Monday, Abhi was busy in various meetings. He sent a sms to Nikki apologising for his inability to keep their date in the evening as something serious had cropped up and asked her if they could meet the next day instead. Nikki was disheartened but understandingly, sent him an okay.
Next day, finding her alone in the locker room, Abhi said "I am so sorry about yesterday"
“You seem to be really very busy," she asked with concern in her voice.
Abhi ran his fingers through his hair.
"Yeah there are lots of things happening. All at the same time. The Sanjeevani project and Uncle-Aunty being here for a short time. I so want to spend some time with them and then I am also trying to make time for....... he stops. He was about to say "the precious person in my life"
He looked love struck at her. The approaching footsteps of the interns alerted them.
"Lets leave together in the evening," he said hurriedly and after Nikki nodded, he managed to make his exit before the gang entered.
Towards the evening, having completed her work, Nikki was walking in the corridor and came face to face with Simi.
"Do you know if Abhi is in his cabin?" she asked .
“Oh, I really don’t know” Nikki replied. She was surprised to see Simi holding a button in her hand. "Last night we were together and he dropped this shirt button in my room" Nikki was dumbfounded. She felt the ground shake beneath her feet.
"Never mind, I'll go and give it to him myself.” Simi said slyly, having achieved the desired reaction from Nikki. She walked towards Abhi's cabin.
Nikki felt a piercing in her chest. “No, this can’t be true. Abhi said he was busy. That is why he cancelled our date. How did he land up in Simi’s room? What were they doing that the button of his shirt was in her room ? She had a proof of it." She felt betrayed infusing pain and anger into her.
Seething with rage, she made her way towards Abhi's cabin. Before she could enter, the door opened and Simi walked out. Seeing Nikki she gave her a sacchrine sweet smile and said "Bye Nikki, catch you later .”
Nikki deliberately knocked on the cabin door and entered. Happy to see Nikki, Abhi’s face brightened up and a wide smile spread on it.
"Ready to leave?" he asked
Lying on the table was the button Simi had in her hand. Nikki got even more jealous and angry.
"Aren't you busy today ?" she taunted
"No, today I won't cancel our dinner," He assured her with a smile.
Picking up the button, she asked , "What is this button doing here ?"
“Oh that.....that ....” Abhi stuttered, fumbling for words. “it fell on ......."
“Simi's room?" she finished in calm anger.
Abhi’s head jerked up abruptly. Colour began to leave his face.
"Who told you ? Simi ?" he asked suspiciously.
"How does it matter?” Nikki snapped. “You first invite me to dinner and then you cancel it saying you are busy and then you end up with Simi in her room!"
Shaking his head in the negative, Abhi went closer to her and held her arms
"Will you please listen to me first?” he implored “Thats not true at all"
"Oh really ?” Nikki’s eyes were flashing with anger. “ Then what is the truth Abhi? that you were not in Simi's room last night ?"
“Yes, Yes I was in Simi's room last night but its not like what you think !"
She wasn't expecting a confirmation but when he did, it tore her heart. She refused to allow him to complete as jealousy sent her emotions overboard.
"After all that Simi has done to you, after the way she ruined your whole career, you still give so much of importance to her!" She spat venomously at him.
Abhi was stunned. She then realised she blurted out something she shouldn’t have and bit her lower lip.
Abhi grasped both her shoulders angrily and menacingly pulled her closer to him. "How do you know about my past ?" he demanded, his tone was calm but she knew there was lava hidden in it. Fear had paralysed her tongue and she was unable to utter a word.
"Adi?" he asked, eyes narrowing in disbelief. Nikki lowered her eyes unable to meet his angry eyes.
"Is that is why you suddenly softened towards me ?" He asked and then shut his eyes tightly as if he was tormented by the thought.
"I thought your feelings for me changed because you began to care for me,” he continued. “But no, your feelings changed because you felt sorry for me, for my wretched past," he sneered.
"No Abhi thats not true," She shook her head. However, he was not listening.
"Don't know why am I such a fool! I keep falling for the same things over and over again." Pain and anger erased all the joy and enchantment he had been experiencing the past few days. Before Nikki could say anything, there was a knock on the door.
“Hey, so the lovebirds are here together!" Adi’s cheerful voice cut into the grinding tension in the room. He then noticed Abhi's face flushed with anger and a flustered Nikki had lowered her eyes.
"What happened guys? You both fighting again?" he asked softly. Abhi swirled at him.
"Never expected you would be the one to stab me from behind" Abhi blasted pointing an accusing finger at him. His eyes reflected the anguish and hurt the betrayal brought him.
"What are you saying Abs?" Adi was stung by his accusation
"You had no business to tell her about my past," Abhi roared, his nostrils flaring angrily. Adi darted a questioning glance at Nikki and she returned a look that carried helplessness, apology and pleading. He blinked at her understandingly.
"Abs she has every right to know.” He tried to pacify his friend. “I don't feel I did anything wrong"
"Really ? What was so right about telling her?” Abhi scoffed “wanted to garner sympathy for me?”
Nikki and Abhi exchanged sad looks.
“The last thing I want in my life is sympathy from anyone" Abhi was raging fire.
“Abs, listen." Adi put his arm on him but he angrily shrug it away.
"Its no use Adi.” Nikki said, wanting to stop him from pleading for their sake. “He won't understand anything we say. No matter what we say, he'll always comprehend things the way he wants to."
Adi still looked pleadingly at Abhi who turned his face away from his close bud.
"Its okay Adi,” Nikki told him. “I don't have to explain my feelings to anyone especially to someone who won't understand it. So please, lets just leave this here,” her voice was firm. Abhi glared at her and then with another glare at Adi, he stormed out of his cabin, slamming the door behind him.
A tearful Nikki flopped down on the chair.
“I am so sorry Adi. I blurted about his past without realizing it”
“That’s okay Nikki,” Adi soothed, tenderly patting her head. “But, how did his past come up”
"I was very upset with him. He cancelled our dinner and ended up with Simi in her room"
Adi looked at her in surprise.
“Now who told you that Nikki! I was with Abs last night, when we dropped Simi to her room" Nikki’s eyes widened in shock.
"Abs had finished late last night and since he wasn't meeting you, we decided to have a drink. At the pub, we saw Simi in a complete drunken state. We took her to her room and put her on her bed. That's all. We left after that."
Nikki told Adi how Simi told her that she and Abhi spent the evening together and showed her a button of Abhi's shirt which she found in in her room.
"I knew that woman was up to no good,” Adi was disgusted disgusted “All that sweetness she puts on is just a farce"
“How does it matter now?" Nikki said woefully "Abhi and I are not destined to be together. Things can never get better between us”
Tears flowing down her cheeks, she dashed out of the room before Adi could stop her.
An upset Abhi was sitting on a bench in the lawn. Adi came and sat down beside him. An uncomfortable silence hung in the air for a good few minutes.
"Do you really think I mean anything bad for you Abs? that I can cheat you?” The hurt in Adi’s voice tugged at his heart. He shook his head unhappily and placed a comforting arm around Adi’s shoulder.
“Why? Why did you have to tell Nikki about my past?"
“Dammit, you Fool! I told her because she loves you. I felt she would understand you much better. She really loves you Abs"
Abhi keeps mum.
"why don't you understand her? why don't you understand your own heart, your own feelings Abs?” Adi prodded “ It keeps clearly telling you that you love her a lot, then why are you fighting it?" Abhi was listening intently to him.
"I guess you understand everything Abs, but its your ego which is stopping you You'll ruin any chance of happiness Abs if you allow your ego to overtake your love," Adi warned softly. His words began to seep deep into Abhi and he realised that “Come what may, he will always love Nikki.”
"I did my best for you Brother,” Adi told him sadly “but I am not God. You decide what you want whether you want her in your life or not and if you do, go and tell it to her!"
After a deep thought, Abhi stood up and walked towards his car. A happy smile curved on Adi's lips.
"Do say Hi to her from me!" he called from behind. Abhi nodded and droves off.
Nikki opened the door and was surprised to find Abhi standing there. They stared at each other, both, uneasiness making speech difficult. Still smarting from their quarrel earlier in the day, Nikki raised her head high and haughtily walked away from the door and ambled further into the room. She turned her back to him and folded her hand across her chest. Abhi followed her and stood closer to her.
"Nikki.....I.......I" he stuttered.
"Enough Abhi, Enough!” a peeved Nikki swirled and lashed at him. “ I don't think there is anything left to be said between us"
Abhi was taken aback by her outburst.
"Nikki please listen to what I have to say,” he pleaded .
"What do want to say Abhi? You think I don’t know why you have come?”
Abhi looked at her in puzzlement.
“You are scared I won't come for the party on thursday ? aren’t you? That is why you have come to apologise!”
Abhi shook his head in the negative
"Well, you are right!” Nikki confirmed "I can't carry on with this pretence anymore, so I won't be coming to the party" Abhi was stunned by her words.
"We can never ever be good to each other,” Nikki told him, her face red with anger. “We can't even manage to be civil with each other. Everytime we come closer, we end up hurting and getting angry with each other. I am really tired of it all. I have thought a lot about it and I really think its best we stay far away from each other as much as we can"
"Nikki....but....." Abhi interjected but, she raised her hand preventing him from saying anything further.
"Instead of the heart being ripped apart every now and then, lets just keep away from each other for good.” She told him, choking back on her tears. “One fatal blow in any case is much better than dying a slow death everyday.”
Abhi was dying from inside. He exhaled deeply and said "Fine ! If thats what you really want, then thats what you will get!" His voice was calm and composed
“I will not trouble you anymore or have anything to do with you!" he declared vehemently, his voice laden with bitterness.
They were both hurting to the core yet obstinately, they didn't want the other to see and glared at each other. Abhi then tore his gaze away and walked to the door, slamming it shut after he let himself out.
A heartbroken Nikki slumped down on the couch and sobbed bitterly.
Abhi sat in the car and stared into the darkness. Tears stung and clouded his eyes. He swallowed the painful lumps that were pricking his throat.
Throwing his head back he squeezed his eyes shut. ITS ALL OVER NOW. he declared in a broken voice.