“Hello Nikki, are you there ? Nikki ?" Adi worriedly kept calling out.
Nikki stood motionless, phone trembling in her hands and her heart started beating violently with fear
“Nikki?” Adi’s roaring voice alerted Nikki. She quickly gathered her wits. “is this some kind of a joke Adi ? Don’t play games with me, Please, not like this."
“Switch on the television and see for herself.” Adi told her as a matter of fact. “I am going to the airport right away, will call you from there.
“No Adi wait, I want to come too. Please ?”
“Okay, I’ll pick to you up in few minutes.” he disconnected quickly.
The breaking news on the television confirmed what Adi just said. Nikk felt her hands and feet going numb.
“Abhi,” she whispered his name. “Abhi,” she called out again, this time aloud hoping to get some response from him.
“Oh God please let him be safe,” she prayed. “please let the flight land safely, please God, please,” she prayed, clutching her hands tightly together.
A few minutes later the news channel confirms that the flight had crashed into a field in some remote village and was blown up in smoke. There were no chances of survivors.
Paralysed into complete numbness, Nikki slumped to the ground
"No,” she shook her head in a state of denial. “No, this can't be, this can't be.,” her voice kept rising as the truth kept sinking in.. “No it can't be "
“ABHI” she finally screamed aloud in despair. Burying her face into her hands she started crying bitterly.
Adi had just entered when he heard her scream and quickly ran to her. Kneeling down beside her, he cradled her in his arms, trying his best to comfort her. "Abhi...Abhi...." Nikki continued to cry and tearfully pointed to the news on the television.
“Nikki, Nikki,” Adi shook her firmly. "Nikki you've got to get a hold of yourself. We don't know anything yet. I am sure nothing is going to happen to Abhi"
He realized he didn’t sound convincing himself , nor, was he able to stop the fear that had gripped him too. Not wanting to think of the worst as yet, he silently prayed for a miracle. He then clasped a distraught Nikki tightly in his arms and tried his best to soothe her.
"Why don't you stay here,” he told her. “I'll go and check at the airport.”
“No Adi,” Nikki pleaded with the shake of her head. “ I'll die if I stay here! Let me come with you." He nodded and helped her up. They then dashed towards the door and rushed out.
Climbing down the steps of the porch, they stopped abruptly in their tracks. In stunned silence, they watched the person who alighting from the cab and froze.
Abhi was entering the gates when he was astonished to see Adi at Nikki’s place.
Watching them standing motionless, face drained of color, his eyebrows furrowed in puzzlement.
Realising it was indeed Abhi, like a burst of hurricane, Nikki ran and threw herself at him. Clasping him tightly she clung on to his neck and her hold was so tight, she was almost smothering him. A baffled Abhi slowly wrapped his arms around her. He looked questioningly at Adi and found him gaping at him with open mouth.
In his arms Nikki was sniffing and sobbing. Through misty eyes, she looked lovingly at him and cupped his face with both her hands. Her expressions changed from fear to disbelief and then to joy and happiness.
"Thank God, Abhi,” she whispered in relief. “ Thank God you are okay! Nothing happened to you !"
Abhi is unable to fathom what was going on.
"I am fine Nikki, but, what happened?” he asked gently holding her face in his hands.
Nikki was unable to speak. Her throat had gone dry. She was breathing heavily.
Abhi looked at Adi. "What happened Adi? What’s going on?” Adi too was speechless.
“For God's sake, can someone explain something to me? What the hell is going on? " Abhi hollered impatiently.
Hearing the irritation in his voice, Adi snapped out of his stupor.
“Abs the flight, you were taking, crashed. There doesn’t seem to be any survivors” He informs him.
"WHAT ?" Abhi was astounded.
For a moment, it felt as if the ground was disappearing beneath his feet. He looked down at Nikki who tearfully shook her head in confirmation.
"Didn't you take the flight ?" Adi asked him. Nikki also looked questioningly at him.
"Well I did board the flight but then,” he paused and then looked affectionately at Nikki. “I wanted to talk to Nikki, so I got off the flight just before the doors were closing.”
"Oh God !" the cold fear of sure death had he taken the flight now had sunk into him.
Tears continue to trickle down Nikki's cheek. Closing his eyes, Abhi tightened his grip around her.
"Abhi you killed me today,” She told him chokingly. “You killed me,” she whispered.
“You love giving me pain don’t you Abhi ?” she asked him, the pain reflecting in her eyes. “You always like to see me in pain. You don’t know how much I died today! ” With angry tears she freed herself from him and ran into the house.
"Nikki is absolutely right Abs,” Adi walked up to Abhi and puts his hand on his shoulder. “ Today, you did kill us Bro.'
His voice was choking. Abhi's eyes moistened . The emotional brotherly bond surfaced as they looked at each other and they embraced.
"I never felt so lonely in my life as I did the past few hours." Adi told him solemnly. Abhi soothingly squeezed him tightly and patted him on the back.
"Go talk to her,” Adi said pulling away. “She was completely broken when she heard the news"
Abhi nodded his head in confirmation.
"Don’t worry, I'll talk to the folks at home," Adi assured him. He was much calmer now. He walked towards his car.
He, then stopped and looking back at Abhi said "Don't mess up this time Abs. Take this as a message from God above. He willed another chance for both of you to be together." Abhi nodded his head once again.
Nikki was sitting on the couch, elbows on her knees, face buried in those hands as she sobbed. She was embarrassed by the outburst she threw at him before running into the house. Her feelings now lay bare before him. What will he think of her? Hearing Abhi enter, she quickly straightened herself and tried to wipe away her tears. She could not meet his eyes. Using the excuse of getting some water for him, she stood up and nervously passed him. Abhi held her hand from behind.
"I love you Nikki.”
A stunned Nikki stopped in her tracks. A mixed feeling of excitement and apprehension gripped her as she turned to face him.
"You are just saying it," she told him cautiously. “Just because of my behavior outside.
"No I mean it,” Abhi said firmly “Don’t you still get it? I just couldn't stay away from you any more Nikki"
He gently caressed her face and said "I got off that plane with one firm decision. No matter how much begging and pleading it needed, I would do it, till you agreed to be mine.”
A slight smile erupted on Nikki’s face. Dr. Abhimanyu Modi pleading? She was really lucky. Sensing her thoughts, Abhi also smiled.
Looking down affectionately at her, he said “Lets face it Nikki, no matter how much we are angry, fight or are mad at each other, we can't change the fact that we love each other.”
He pushed back an errant strand of hair from her face “We belong to each other Nikki. I can't live without you anymore. Just can't !" His face revealed how tormented he was by the thought.
Nikki was overyjoyed and she looked lovestruck at him, unable to speak.
"Today I would have died If it weren't for you"
Hurriedly, Nikki put her fingers on his lips.
"Abhi please, please don't say that," a horrified Nikki, cried out .
Abhi held her hand and kissed it.
"It is impossible for us to live without each other. So, why fight our destiny," he said.
Nikki nodded her head in agreement. She had almost lost him and was glad she got a chance to get him back.
"I love you Abhi,” she whispered lovingly. "I can't live without you at all. Even I tried my best to stay away from you, but it is just not possible"
Abhi pulled her into his arms and squeezed his eyes shut. For a long time, They stood lost into each other as his arms were tightly clasped around her.
The pain, the torment, the agony of the past few weeks have all tumbled out.
"Oh My God !" Abhi exclaimed after a while, as he looked down into Nikki's face.
"What happened?" she asked worriedly
"I think I have been hugging the wrong girl" Nikki looked at him perplexed.
"The girl I love has lovely big eyes but I can't seem to find them beneath these tears,” he grinned mischievously as he pretended to search her face.
"Abhi....you are so horrible!” Nikki playfully drummed her hands on his chest. “First you give me so much pain and then you tease me." she said poutily.
Pulling her closer to him, Abhi says "Don't worry. You know I am a Doctor. I have the right kind of balm to soothe your pain.” Mischief continued to glint in his eyes. Sensing he was being naughty, Nikki made a face at him.
Abhi lowered his face and kissed away the tears from one eye. Nikki blushed and her heart started racing. Once again he lowered his face to kiss her lips but Nikki stopped him by putting her hand on his lips.
"First complete the treatment Dr. Modi and then you'll get your fees,”
She pointed to the tears from the other eye. Abhi smiled at her pertness. He sighed resignedly and kissed away the tears from that eye.
Once again, when he attempted to claim her lips, Nikki stopped him by placing her hand on his lips again and pointed to the tears on the left cheek.
Tantalised by her playful teasing , Abhi smiled again and kissed the tears from her cheek.
Just as Nikki was about to point out to the tears on the other cheek, Abhi grabbed the opportunity and quickly placed his lips over hers. Nikki was completely caught unawares.
"That's cheating !” she drummed her hands on his chest. “ You need to be punished for this"
"I have no problem at all Sweetheart,” grabbing her hand he seductively put it around his neck. “ but then ,” he drew her closer to him “first, let me complete the crime properly." he winked wickedly. Nikki grinned. He then slowly started lowering his face, his eyes had turned intensely passionate making her cheeks turn flaming red. Nikki gasped when his lips were clamped over hers and she tightened her hold around his neck in complete surrender.
Few minutes later, while Abhi and Nikki were still caught in passion, Abhi's cellphone rang
“Abhi, your phone is ringing,” Nikki nudged him gently.
Not wanting to spoil their moment, he said “I know. Let it ring,” and continued kissing her.
“Abhi, it could be urgent,” prodded Nikki.
The phone stopped ringing. However, couple of minutes later, a message beeped. Nudged by Nikki, Abhi reluctandly dug his hands into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out his phone. Holding Nikki with his other arm, they read the message from Maya.
"Thank God you are safe son. Waiting to see you soon.”
“Abhi you must go home first and meet everyone,” Nikki tells him. “They must be dying to see you. They care a lot for you"
Abhi nodded his head.
"I feel so blessed having such wonderful people in my life" his eyes were damp.
"Really Nikki, I can't believe someone, as wonderful as you, would come into my life and make it complete.” He told as he looked adoringly at her. “ I can't believe I kept fighting with myself and even with you, to stay away from me, when actually you are the reason for my living!"
A naughty smile hover on his lips. "You don't know how difficult it is to resist your charms!"
Nikki’s cheeks were glowing from his compliments.
"I know, I know ! my sympathies are definitely with you," she tweaked his nose in mock sympathy.
Raising an eyebrow, Abhi says "Accha? so you are teasing me now?"
Digging a finger into his chest, Nikki said "what the master teaches this student ardently follows,” she blinked, feigning innocence.
With a sly smile, Abhi pulled her closer to him. "In that case, I've got better things to teach you!"
He attempted to kiss her again , but, Nikki stoppped him by putting her fingers on his lips.
"There is plenty of time for this. Now first let's go and meet Uncle-Aunty and the rest.” With a sigh Abhi reluctantly agreed.
During the drive, Nikki leaned towards Abhi and wrapping her hand around his arm, she rests her head on his shoulder.
"Everyone at Sanjeevani will be so shocked to hear about us," she smiled at the storm it would create in Sanjeevani. Abhi laughed aloud.
"A Senior Doctor and an intern ! Scandal !' he declared .
Glancing down at her, he found Nikki deep in thought.
"Are you nervous, your friends will know about us ?" he asked softly.
Nikki looked at him. His humiliation at the pool because of her, filled her eyes with sadness.
"No, I would love them to know about us," she declared vehemently.
"I don't think you should do that as yet !" Abhi told her. Nikki looked questioningly at him.
"I think we should keep your career in sight. Talks about our relationship at this point of time may not be good for it. You need to complete your internship. We should not allow our relationship to affect it".
"How do you manage to think about everything?" Nikki asked admiringly.
"Because you are very special to me!" He replied fondly.
Nikki smiled at him and puts her head back on his shoulder.
When they reach Abhi's place, a relieved Sr. Puri quickly walked towards Abhi with open arms. He engulfed him in a big hug and patting him on his back said "I can't take any more of these. After your parents left us the way they did, I can't bear to lose you son. I almost died today".
Tears were glistening in Abhi's eyes as he hugged him even more tightly. Sheetal and Maya also hug Abhi emotionally while the rest look on.
Pulling away from Abhi, Maya looked at Nikki with teary eyes.
"You keep on fighting with him if his making up to you can save him like this"
Nikki looked at Adi who gave her a feeble smile.
Adi informed Nikki and Abhi, they have decided to go back home along with their parents, since Sheetal's health wasn't too good. .
After dinner on Sunday, Nikki and Abhi dropped the Puri's at the airport. Nikki was overcome with sadness as she watched the family she grew to love, walk towards the entrance of the airport terminal.
"Nikki you must come to London soon, especially when the baby arrives,” Sheetal told her embracing her warmly. “You need to see the brat who got us all into a panic."
Both of them chuckle.
“I’ll miss you Sheetal,” Nikki told her fondly.
"Oh I'll miss you too Nikki, I am so glad to have met you. We had such a great time. We’ll sure stay in touch.” Once again, they hug each other warmly.
Maya and Sr. Puri echo Sheetal’s sentiments as they also warmly embrace Nikki.
"We have to meet soon…. hmm ?" Sr. Puri told Nikki who nodded at him.
Kissing her on the forehead, he said "God Bless You!"
Finding Abhi, Sheetal, Maya and Sr. Puri chatting, Nikki quietly we t up to Adi.
“Thank you Adi for bringing Abhi back into my life,” Looking at her eyes filled with gratitude, he extended his arm and squeezed her shoulder.
"He was always yours Nikki. You belong to each other. Its just that you both were not willing to see it.” He smiled happily at her.
“Don't lose him again Nikki,” he adviced tenderly.
“Also, though I may not be physically around here, but, you must know, whenever you need my help for anything, I'll always be there for you.”
Tears filled Nikki's eyes. Looking up at his face, she said to him in a choked voice,
"You are a wonderful person Adi, I am so glad to know you." He clasped her tightly in his arms.
"What's going on?" Abhi’s voice came from behind Adi. Turning towards him, Adi and Nikki quickly wiped their tears.
"I was checking with Nikki if she would elope with me ?" Adi teased him. Abhi grinned.
"You better go peacefully or else ...” he playfully waved his fist at him.
Adi slapped his fist over Abhi’s fist. With a smile, they embrace each other.
Sr. Puri, Maya and Sheetal wave goodbye to Abhi and Nikki and enter the terminal gates.
"Thanks Bro for everything,” Abhi tells Adi. “especially for bringing Nikki back into my life"
Adi and Nikki exchanged a knowing smile and Adi winks at her.
"You both, are an amazing pair! You definitely belong to each other !” He thumped Abhi on the back and after pulling back, he hugged Nikki again.
“Looking forward to seeing you both soon !" he told them and wiping his tears, walked away.
"Oh I am going to miss them a lot !” Abhi said wistfully, as they were driving home. “It is an amazing feeling going home to a family !"
Nikki nodded understandingly at him.
They arrive at Nikki's place and she was despondent as she didn't want to leave him so soon. Reluctantly, she turned and opened the door of the car. However, she felt him pull her into his arms and before she knew it, his sensuous lips were on hers. Just when she was enjoying the kiss, he pulled away and gently releasing her said “Goodnight,” softly.
"Do you want to come in for a coffee ?" Nikki asked earnestly, buying for some more time with him.
"No, its quiet late now,” Abhi said “Tomorrow morning, I've got to reach early at Sajeevani,”
He got off the car and going over to Nikki’s side, opened the door for her. A dejected Nikki climbed out of the car. She looked poutily at him making him smile. He then ran a finger seductively on her cheek, saying, "Goodnight Sweet Temptress! You better go now. As I said before its really difficult to resist you and my control these are really weak" He gave her his most charming smile.
'Must his smile be so irresistible' Nikki mentally said to herself
Slowly she walked away from him.
Reaching the door of her house, she turned back to see Abhi sitting in the car. Tossing a flying kiss at her, he then drove away.
TO BE CONTINUED