Rain was lashing down amid thunder and lightning. Roads were flooded everywhere.
"Wow, what weather!” exclaimd an excited Muskaan “ why don't we start singing rain songs from the movies?"
"Yeah yeah, lets order some pizza too and have a picnic right here in the car in middle of the floods!" Abhi’s sarcasm made Nikki smile.
"Good idea Dr. Modi!" retorted Atul. He asks Armaan what for the number of the pizza place. Abhi rolled his eyes in exasperation while Nikki and the rest burst out laughing.
Finding something amiss, Armaan said "Dr. Modi why are you taking that road? Nikki's place comes first and its on the left side." Abhi and Nikki exchanged knowing looks. They couldnt' tell Armaan that they had planned to talk and so he needed to drop them first.
“Oh, that road is flooded and there is heavy traffic,” Abhi lied. “so can't take it."
"Oh! Ok." Says Armaan
However, they the traffic on this road was jammed too and they were unable to move much. Abhi switched on the radio to hear the traffic news. They were shocked to hear that the traffic on their route, has been stalled completely since there was heavy flooding. No movement at all.
"Oh God, now how do we get home?" asked Muskaan worriedly
Abhi shook his head in desperation "I don't know".
In an attempt to find a way out, he leaned towards Nikki to look at the road on her side. Nikki's senses stirred excitedly and her heart raced at the top most speed, but, he had no clue of the effect he was having on her.
He then straightened up in his seat and said, "Somehow, if I manage to get on to that line of vehicles, then, we can take the left diversion and reach Nikita's place.”
With a bit of manoeuvring, he squeezed his way past a couple of cars and managed to take the left. Driving a little further, they found even that road was jammed with vehicles.
“inspite of your house being just one lane away on that side,” Abhi said to Nikki, motioning to the left of her, “it will be difficult to reach it. Looks like we are stuck.”
Everyone in the car were terribly dejected. Abhi then noticed a small roadside stall on Nikki's side and rolled down Nikki's window. Once again he leaned closer to her and called out to the shopkeeper telling him Nikki's address and asking if there was any other route they could take to go to the other side. The man shook his head, telling them this was the only route.
Looking at their disappointed faces, he then pointed to an inner road on the left, saying “you enter this 5 storey car park. Park your car on the top floor. There is a a building under construction next to it. You will have to walk on the edge of the terrace of that building and cross over to the other side of it till you come to the stairs. Take the stairs down and you will find your way to the road. However, I have to warn you. Its very risky !”
“It is better than wading through the filthy water,” replied Armaan. “we must attempt to take that route" The others agreed with him. Abhi then drove towards the car park.
They park the car on the top floor as directed by the shopkeeper. When they got off the car, they find a big hole in the wall connecting to the terrace of the building which was under construction. They were shocked to see the debilitated condition of the building. The floor was a mass of concrete and iron rods. Walking over it was just impossible. Besides the side overlooking the road had no wall. In place of a wall there was only a slight elevated platform which was approximately 2 feet in breadth and 7-8 feet long. The place was very dimly lit from the street light that flickered through.
"Oh god, now why did that guy send us here ?" Abhi was irritated.
"We have no choice !" Armaan said, over his shoulder. "We cannot even go back nor can we stay in this carpark. We will have to somehow go across by walking on that elevated platform of that building."
"Are you mad? its raining so heavily. We could slip!” Muskaan yelled at Armaan, gripped with fear and anger. “I am not walking on that edge. Its so risky! You guys go if you want to. I'll stay here."
Atul supported her. "You are right, if anything happens to me what will happen to my Anjali"
"Look if we do this sensibly we can still manage it. Its not very long." Abhi implored.
Armaan nodded his head in agreement. "Yeah and its not too narrow! Besides, if anyone falls there is a parapet down, you can hang on to it!"
He was rewarded with dirty glares from the rest. "Stop joking Armaan!" Riddhima chided.
"So shall we do it?" Abhi asked looking at each one of them. Nervously, they all agree. The rest look questioningly at Muskaan and Atul and they nod their agreement.
Abhi asked the girls to remove their shoes and then slipped himself through the gap in the wall. Armaan asked Nikki to follow him and helps her to get through the gap. On the other side, Abhi gave her his hand and helped her climb out. She then straightened herself and holding Abhi’s hand, stood beside him on the elevated platform. She glanced down at the road below and a cold shiver ran down her spine. She screamed in fear and clinged to Abhi.
"What happened?" the others call from the other end.
"Nothing!" Abhi replied. He then held her hand firmly but soothingly and asked her not to look down.
One by one the others climbed out of the window and stood beside them in line. It was Atul followed by Muskaan then Ridz and then Armaan.
Sensing Nikki’s nervousness, Abhi tenderly kept caressing her palm sending tingling sensations into her system. "Are you nervous?" his voice was low and sounded so seductive. She shook her head in confirmation. "Don't be! I am here with you!" he comforted. "Just hold on tightly to my hand!"
He then looked at the rest of the group and asked if everyone was okay. After they confirmed they were, he told them not to get nervous and instructd them to hold the person in front and not to shake too much. Then, clasping Nikki's hand, he started walking and the others nervously followed him. The rain was still lashing down, making it difficult for them to walk properly. Slowly but steadily, Abhi managed to reach to the other end. He then saw that the floor was quiet low and they would have to jump a bit to get off. Telling Nikki to stay still, he jumped down. He, then, helped Nikki, Atul and Muskaan to climb down.
As Riddhima was about to reach the end , her shoe slipped from her hands. With sudden reflexes, she managed to stop it from falling but she lost her balance with her movements. Armaan quickly leaned forward and steadied her but in doing so, his jerky movements caused him to lose his balance and he fell off the terrace. Everyone watched in horror as he disappeared from the terrace.
“Armaan!” Riddhima let out a terrifying scream which was echoed by the others.
Abhi quickly grabbed Riddhima and after pulling her off the platform, jumped on to it. When he looked down, he saw Armaan hanging on to the tiny parapet below. His hands were slipping because of the rain and he had difficulty to hold on. Abhi got down to the floor and his stomach lying on the platform, he stretched out his hand. "Armaan, try to reach my hand!" he yelled out to him. Inspite of stretching fully there was a gap between their hands. The others were worried and nervous and they started praying as they watched the two.
An helpless Abhi darted a searching glance around. Finding nothing, he then placed his feet in between the mesh of iron rods as a support and lowered himself as much as he could. He was almost waist up lowered to the other side. Looking at him, panic and worry thumped into Nikki. Fervently, she prayed that both Abhi and Armaan would come up safely..
Armaan tried his best to lift himself up and after a few attempts, he managed to grab Abhi's hand. Their hands were slipping away from each other because of the rain. Abhi gathered all the strengthened he possessed and held on to Armaan's hand tightly. He then quickly started pulling him up. Armaan managed to get his foot on the parapet and it was easier for Abhi to drag him up. Having reached the platform, a panting Armaan sat over it. He looked at Riddhima and the others and waved at them, indicating he was safe. Abhi exhaled and sat down beside him. Both, he and Armaan were breathing heavily as htey looked down at the road below and then at each other.
"Thanks Dude". Armaan said, with a tender box on Abhi's arm. Abhi smiled and nodded his head in acknowledgement.
"Good you noticed the parapet!" He muttered wryly and they grinned broadly.
Having got their breath back, they stood up and walked to where the others were. The moment Armaan climbed down, a tearful Riddhima ran to him and hugged him tightly. Moist-eyed, Atul and Muskaan gather around them.
As Abhi climbed down, he looked at Nikki and saw tears in her eyes. He wondered if her tears were for him. They keep staring at each other, their eyes, emotionally moist. Nikki also wanted to run to him and hug him. Swallowing hard at her helplessness, she slowly ambled towards him. Softly, she asks him if he was alright. He nodded his head, his eyes still glued to hers.
"Dr. Modi are you okay?" Atul enquired. Dusting away the grime on his shirt, Abhi told him he was fine. Riddhima thanked Abhi for saving Armaan and he gave her an understanding smile. "Shall we take the stairs now ?" he asked looking at the others. "I guess the worst is over!" Everyone nodded in agreement.
He started down the stairs, followed by, Nikki, Atul, Muskaan, Riddhima and Armaan. It was very dark and they were holding each other for support. His fingers entwined into Nikki's, Abhi gently and protectively led her down. With his comforting presence, Nikki did not fear of the dark. Her heart was thrumming with happiness. They then managed to get out of the building and reach the road to Nikki’s house
Drenched and tired, they decided to take a shower. They wondered what clothes would the men wear, since theirs were soiled and drenched. The girls did have the option of Nikki's clothes. Nikki told them they had no choice but to wrap themselves in towels till their clothes were washed and dry. The girls decide to share Nikki's room while the three men take each of the other three bedrooms. Looking around the house, Muskaan asked Nikki whether she ever felt lonely living in such a big house. Nikki told her she has no choice since its her family home. She did have a help who stayed wiht her, but, right now she had gone to the village for her festival.
In the shower, Nikki's worried and tearful face kept flashing in front of Abhi. He wondered what was happening to him? After all that had transpired between them does Nikki really care for him? Does he really care for her? The more he tried his best to keep away from Nikki, the more he was drawn towards her. He felt the urge to protect her all the time. Why does he fall so weak whenever he is with her?" The questions baffled him and continued to nag at him as he wrapped the towel around his waist and walked out of the shower. He walked to the window and stared into space.
Few minutes later, he heard a knock of the door and when he turned, he saw Nikki standing on the door. The sight of him standing bare chest, clad only in a towel, brought a deep blush into her cheek. He looked questioningly at her and then slowly strode towards her. He was standing so close, Nikki felt her senses being stirred by the pleasing smell that accompanied him.
"I.....I've come to take your clothes for wash." she stammered under awkwardness. Unable to trust her feelings, she quickly turned and walked towards the bathroom. Her legs were still wobbly when she came out with the clothes basket. Abhi kept staring at her.
Gathering courage, she said to him, "Everyone has gathered out in the living room, why don't you join in?" Abhi shook his head in acknowledgement. Her nerves threatening to give way, Nikki quickly walked out of the room.
After putting the clothes in the washer, Riddhima and she walk into the living room. The sight of three bare chested men with only towels wrapped around their middle made the girls giggle.
Hearing their giggles, Armaan smiled wryly. "Yeah Yeah I know it looks as if we are on the beach!" Everyone chortled aloud.
"I am feeling very hungry." Atul announced.
"Right now, all that I have are some instant noodle packets. We could also prepare some sandwiches quickly.” Nikki told them. She glanced at Riddhima who nodded her head. "Till then you guys can help yourself to some fruits." They agree.
Riddhima and Nikki went into the kitchen. "Oh now I remember," Riddhima suddenly exclaimed. "I was looking out for you earlier as I needed your medical kit. Armaan has got some bruises because of the fall so wanted to apply an ointment on him." Nikki pointed to the place where the kit is kept and taking the kit said "I'll be back in few minutes. We'll prepare the food then" Nikki nodded.
Rummaging through the kitchen shelves, Nikki was looking for the noodles. After a desperate search, she saw they were on the top most self of the larder.
"This Radha is nuts!” she grumbled, at her missing help. “She has kept the noodles so high, now how do I reach it ?"
She stretched up a couple of times but was unable to reach the shelf.
Suddenly, she sensed someone looming over her and reaching for the shelf. She turned quickly and was facing Abhi. Her heart started pounding.
His eyes were glued to her as he stretched up and pulled down the packet of noodles and handed it to her. She swallowed nervously and took the packet from him. He then raised an eyebrow wordlessly checking if she needed more. She shook her head in confirmation.
His eyes still fixed on her, he brought down a few more packets. He was standing so close, Nikki could feel the brush of his bare skin against hers. She was unable to breathe. She felt an ache to lean into him. She tore her gaze away from him and concentrated on the packets he was giving her. She then noticed a few bruises on his arms. Quickly putting down the packets on the kitchen counter, she held his arm.
"Abhi you are bruised!" There was concern in her voice.
He shrugged it off. "Oh those are just small bruises, it will be fine!" he said in a flippant tone
"we need to put an antiseptic ointment on it" Nikki tells him with concern.
"Later" he told her softly.
Nikki saw passion slowly smouldering in his eyes as he continued to stare at her. She felt herself drowning in them. Her heart was thrumming so loudly Nikki was afraid he would hear it. As he lowered his face bringing it closer to hers, she could feel the warmth of his breath on her and her senses were completely stirred from the smell of freshness that emanated from him. When his lips were just a brush away, Nikki felt a throbbing on her lips and knowing there was no escape, she closed her eyes in meek surrender.
"Ahem! Ahem!" the clearing of throat behind them, made their heads snap up and they quickly pulled away from each other.
They turned and saw it was Riddhima standing at the entrance. "Sorry to disturb you both," she said, with a blush on her cheeks. "The guys are demanding for food and they could be here any moment!"
Abhi and Nikki flushed in embarassment and look awkwardly at her. Hurriedly, Abhi went to the door and walked out of the kitchen. Seeing Nikki blushing profusely, Riddhima nudged her and winked . Nikki’s cheeks turned even more red.
By the time they finished eating, the clothes were washed and dried up. After changing into vests and jeans, Abhi and Armaan walked into the living room where the others were sitting. Armaan went near Riddhima and they start whispering sweet somethings to each other. Stretching himself, Atul announced he was tired and was off to bed. Abhi, too, excused himself and went into his room.
Nikki was sad he was leaving but, was unable to stop him from leaving. She pulled out the medical kit from the cabinet and taking the ointment from it, she went to Abhi's room and found the door open. She saw he was lying on the bed, his hand lying across his forehead, partly covering his shut eyes. Hearing her knock, he sat up as he watched her walk towards him. She told him she had come to apply ointment on his bruises.
Sitting on the bed, next to him, he took his arm and started applying the ointment. He was watching her intensely and Nikki was feeling nervous under his gaze. With trembling hands she managed to apply the ointment on his bruises and was putting back the cork on the tube.
"Do you really care for me Nikki?" He asked.
Nikki held his gaze for few moments, unable to answer him. Then pain and annoyance filled into her eyes "Would anything I say really matter to you ?" she asked softly. They stared at each other their eyes filled with longing and pain.
"Come on Nikki, lets go off to sleep!” Muskaan burst into the room.
Abhi and Nikki reluctantly tore their gaze away. Dragging Nikki by the hand, she said, “I want to chat with you before sleeping. Goodnight Dr. Modi” she smiled at Abhi. With a nod of his head Abhi acknowledged her. He then glanced at Nikki who continued to look at him, as she was dragged out by Muskaan. Afer she was gone, Abhi squeezed his eyes shut in despair.
Tossing and turning through the night, Nikki finally slept in the wee hours of the morning. Waking up with a start, she looked at the bedside clock and saw its 9 am. Muskaan and Riddhima were still fast asleep.
“Abhi!” she whispered his name recalling he stayed at her place.
She quickly dashed out of her room and into his. She found the bed empty and after a searching glance, she noticed a note lying on the bedside table. Picking it up, she sees the note was from Abhi.
"Need to go now. Will talk to you later. Thanks for everything.”
Her chest tightened to see he was gone. Disheartened, she slumped down on the bed with the note in her hand. Her eyes filled with tears as she yearned for him to be beside her.