Everyone had a great time at the wedding. True to his promise, Abhi kept a safe distance from Nikki, though his eyes would keep seeking her, every now and then. On the other hand, consumed with guilt, Nikki was feeling miserable from inside. Everytime she was alone, she would be lost in thoughts. There was sadness in her eyes.
Whenever Abhi found her looking like that, he would begin to worry. He kept asking her, if she was feeling sick and Nikki would tell him she was fine.
Finally, towards the end of the celebration, unable to take it anymore, Nikki said she was tired and wanted to go home.
Back home, while Nikki was in the bathroom, she knew she had to speak to Abhi soon, as she just couldn't carry the burden of the guilt any longer.
Coming out of the bathroom, she finds Abhi standing in front of the mirror, pulling a vest over his head. After wearing it, he looks into the mirror and is surprised to find Nikki staring at him from behind him. His heart nervously begins to flutter remembering how gorgeous she looked and how tortured he was the whole evening. How many times he longed to wrap her tightly in his arms and never letting her go. Yet, he had to curb his desires.
"Abhi," Nikki's nervous voice brings him out of his thoughts.
"Are you not feeling well?" he asks her with concern.
"I am fine." Nikki mumbles
"You want something?" he asks tenderly, realizing she wanted to say something.
Nikki nods her head in acknowledgment.
"What ?" Abhi turns to face her.
"YOU" Nikki was tempted to say. "I just want you to secure me in your arms Abhi and not let me go. I am dying inside. I don't know how to say what I am supposed to." her insides were in shambles.
Seeing the distress on her face, Abhi worriedly calls out "Nikki?"
Shaken out of her thoughts Nikki looks startled at him.
"I...... I......" she strutters. "I want to apologise for all the things I said to you, Abhi. I am sorry"
Abhi is taken by surprise. Digging his hands into the pockets of his sweatpants and resting his shoulder against the wall, he looks discerningly at her.
"And''" he pauses with the raise of an eyebrow. "what do I owe this change of heart to?"
Nikki felt even more wretched. She looks down to the floor.
"Abhi'" she fidgets with her fingers, still finding it difficult to tell him.
Abhi's forehead wrinkles in apprehension.
"Abhi, the night you were at Park Hotel, I found out I was pregnant. I was dying to tell it to you. So, after seeing off Armaan and Riddhima at the airport, I came to your room and'" She swallows nervously
"And I saw you asleep, and.......and saw Sonali in your room........and" she is unable to continue
Abhi straightens up trying to grasp her words. The colour slowly begins to leave his face.
"and I got mad and jealous thinking you''. You and'." she again looks at the ground finding it very difficult to carry on.
She slowly looks up at his face and sees Abhi has turned completely pale at her words. His eyes were frozen with horror.
"Today, Rohit told me Sonali tricked you into it." She tells him, nervously biting her lower lip.
Abhi keeps staring blankly at her. He is unable to utter a word. A whole range of expressions come and go into his eyes as he tries to comprehend her words. When it all sinks in, he shuts his eyes tightly and keeps them shut for a good few seconds. Then he opens it and Nikki can see anger slowly spreading in them.
"Abhi'.. Abhi, at that time I was too upset and angry and''"
"And you ran away from me!" he finishes softly, gritting his teeth in anger.
Shamefaced, Nikki lowers her eyes.
He shakes his head in disbelief.
"Oh My God !" he says agitatedly, running his fingers through his hair. "Oh My God! Oh God!"
"You mean to say that the two months you were away and this wedge between us is created because you thought I cheated on you and you took off without asking any questions? How could you Nikki? How could you think like that after all we went through and just got married! " he pounces at her.
"What else would you expect me to think Abhi ? The situation was such that it angered and hurt me. If you were in my place even you would have done the same thing then." Nikki tells him defensively.
Closing the distance between them in two angry strides, Abhi grabs her by the shoulder.
"Firstly, I would have to really need a lot of convincing to believe that you would do such a thing and even if I do get convinced, do you know what I would have done? I would have dragged you up and shaken you and shaken you, till I got a fitting explanation for such an act, not run away like you." he thunders.
Nikki gasps at his fury.
"but then, why would you do it Nikki?" Abhi continues in a sarcastic tone. "Even though it is your right, why would you demand an explanation from me, when it is so much easier to put the blame on me and walk away, not bothering to find out whether I have actually committed the crime or not."
"Abhi please listen,"
The different range in his anger was unnerving Nikki. It warned of a huge disaster.
"Abhi its not like that'.I was too angry and mad to think clearly," she tries to explains
"Even if you were angry and mad at that time Nikki, later on, didn't your conscience prick you, atleast once, to come back and confront me why I broke your trust ? why I cheated on you? Was I so distrustful in your eyes?" His eyes glinted as pain and anger keep flashing in them.
Nikki's eyes were full of regret.
"Angry and Mad?" he repeats, outraged with her words. "Do you know how angry and mad I am now knowing you ruined everything between us over nothing?"
He looked so furious Nikki begins to cringe in fear. Looking at the fear in her eyes, he lets go off her shoulders with a jerk. He then turns and angrily walks towards the door. Fearing that he would do some harm to himself in his rage, she runs behind him and reaching the door post puts herself in front of him, blocking his way.
"Abhi, where are you going? Please listen." she pleads.
"Move away Nikki, move out of my way." he growls menacingly at her. "I am feeling very violent tonight. I feel like killing someone today and unfortunately I can't kill you." He glares at her.
"For the sake of the little one inside you, just stay away from me." He nudges her aside and strides out angrily shutting the door behind him.
Nikki follows him but hits her toe against the corner of the door and winces in pain.
Infuriated beyond control, Abhi walks out into the lawn, flinging down any and everything that came his way. He was so livid, he felt like burning the whole place down.
Seeing the gym, which was just outside the house, he goes in and hurls the dumbbells, the rods, whatever he could find, to the ground. He was like a raging bull raring to go at anything. Noticing the punching bag, he pushes it hard with all his might. When it returns, he begins to punch it with his bare hands trying to release all his anger and frustration.
It took some time for Nikki to realize that he had not left the premises. Wondering where he could be, she goes out into the lawn in search of him and sees the dim light coming from the gym room.
Entering the gym, she switches on a light and sees him punching hard into the punching bag with his bare hands. There was a dull pain in her heart as she watches him, unleashing all his anger mercilessly on the bag. Droplets of sweat were glistening on his face and body. The knuckles of his hands were turning red for lack of gloves. He let out an angry snorting sound everytime he exhaled a punch into the bag.
With her entry, Abhi increases the pressure even more violently on to the punching bag.
"Abhi please stop, You'll hurt yourself." Nikki pleads with him.
He doesn't listen to her. Nikki knew if he didn't stop, the lack of gloves or pads, would cause grave damage to his wrists and arm. Nikki's heart begins to throb with anxiety.
"Abhi I beg you please stop. Please," she begs.
However, he stubbornly continues punching, not paying any heed to her pleas.
Noticing his knuckles have started turning blue, Nikki panics and throws herself in front of the punching bag. Before she could stop him Abhi's fist comes, in full force, towards her face. Nikki shuts her eyes in fear as she knew there was no chance of escape.
But no, the punch didn't happen. Feeling no pain or hit, she slowly opens her eyes and finds Abhi's fist was just two inches from her face, trembling under angry control. He scowls at her and then pulls her to the side, confining her on to the wall, with hands firmly placed, on either side of her face.
"What were you trying to do?" he growls threateningly. "I told you to stay away from me. Didn't I?" he yells into her face.
"I can't bear to see you hurting yourself like this, Abhi," she tells him, slowly moving her hand up his arm, trying to reach his hand. To her dismay, Abhi shrugs off her touch.
"What about the hurt you gave me Nikki with your mistrust? What do you have to say to that?"
Eyes filled with remorse, Nikki looks into his face. Tenderly, she wipes the sweat glistening on his forehead and face. "Abhi I am sorry, Please forgive me."
"Forgive you Nikki?" he asks softly, his eyes, a pit of boiling lava, "Forgive you for what Nikki?" he sniggles.
"Forgive you for giving a non-entity like Sonali more importance into our marriage than Us?"
Forgive you for letting jealousy and dislike of her, take precedence over the love, the integrity, the passion I brought into our marriage?" his face was frightfully feral.
"Forgive you for what Nikki? For the pain and despair I went through for two months wondering where you were and why you left me?
"Or for the humiliation I had to face when taking help quietly from a friendly cop and a detective to trace my wife who had run away from me and yet seeing there is no blotch on to her reputation?" There was hardness in his voice.
"Forgive you for making me miss out on the wonderful news that you had conceived my child?" Nikki shuts her eyes at the truth of his words.
"Forgive you for the days I lived like a criminal wondering what crime I did and going through a punishment of keeping distance from you and the baby," .
Looking at the smouldering embers in his eyes, Nikki shudders. His breath was savagely heavy. She has seen him angry so many times before, but never this incensed as she sees him today.
"And all this," he grits his teeth. " All this is because you did not trust me enough?"
"Abhi please give me a chance," Nikki implores
"Why didn't you give me one Nikki, why didn't you give me a chance to clarify. Even if you ran away because you were mad and angry at what you saw, why didn't you come back and confront me when you were much calmer?"
"Why did you allow that bitterness seep so deep into you that it made you hate me so much that even my touch started disgusting you?" shaking her head Nikki mouths a "NO"
"And till when you want another chance Nikki, Till when ?" Abhi moves his face closer to hers, as he looks fiercely into her eyes. "Till a needle of suspicion pricks you again and you run away ?
Nikki shakes her head negatively.
"I was a fool to believe in the power of our love, but, as you rightly said, when there is no Us, where is the love. At one point of time, we did have love, passion, happiness, and today we have a baby, we have a family, we have friends but we don't have Us."
Distressed with his words, Nikki puts her hand on his lips to stop him.
"Don't say that Abhi," She felt her heart shattering into pieces at his words.
He moves his lips away from her touch.
"Why?" he sneers. "Didn't you keep throwing that at my face. Why does it change now Nikki? Why?" he bellows. "Just because someone has now given a clean chit to my character?"
Shaking his head unhappily, he takes a deep sigh.
"Abhi, please lets work this out," Nikki pleads, cupping his face with her hand.
"How Nikki, how? I gave you everything I had, but that was not enough for you. Now I have nothing to give you anymore. Nothing. Nor do I have any more patience to start all over again."
Torn and dejected, he slumps forward till his head touches, the space on the wall, between his hand and Nikki's face. Nikki can feel his breath on her face and shoulder. His other arm slouches across her chest. Nikki's heart pierces painfully as she realizes how much she has hurt him and how broken he was. Moving her hand upwards, she soothingly caresses his arm that was lying across her, placing her chin on it. Then turning her face sideways, she looks at him with woeful eyes.
"Abhi," she chokes. He shuts his eyes tightly at the sound of her voice. She then moves her face closer to his till her nose touches his cheek bone. The muscle in his cheek twitches slightly in response to her touch. Their hearts beating rapidly, they stand like that in silence, two people racked with anger, hurt, pain and anguish. Nikki can feel the agitation in his whole body. She did know how to calm him down.
"Abhi, we do love each other. I love you and I know you love me too." she tells him continuing to caress his arm tenderly.
She feels him stiffen. He opens his eyes and lifting his head smirks at her.
"Love Nikki? Love?" he jeers, "Love without trust is like a body without a soul."
"You will always be suspicious of me, no matter what I do and I will not be able to trust you to believe in me. What is love and passion, without trust?" his face contorts into disgust. "It's mere attraction."
Nikki lifts pain filled eyes at him. Abhi stares back at her with hurt in his eyes. He then, moves his eyes down to the little bulge of her stomach. Disengaging his arm from her hold, he puts his hand over it.
"Now, we are only connected by this baby, Nikki. This is all we have between us. We lost out on everything else." He swallows a lump in his throat.
"I must say this to you Nikki," he tells her sullenly. "Thank you, thank you so much" Nikki is devastated.
Tears flowing down her cheeks, she looks at him in despair. She can see glimpses of controlled tears lurking behind the pain and anger in Abhi's eyes. He keeps staring bitterly at her for sometime and then slowly relaxes his body releasing her from his captivation. With a disgusted shake of his head, he stomps off into the bathroom.
With staggered steps, a heartbroken Nikki walks back into the house. Tears continues to flow from her eyes. She realizes how hurt Abhi is. His anger is so justified. How could she be so blind that she did not see the love he had for her.
She slumps down on the couch. How is she going to make things right between them? How? Abhi is so angry with her, he will not help.
"Abhi!" she sobs, holding her stomach hoping for some support. She feels a flitting in her stomach.
"My baby," she whispers with a lump in her throat. "Your father is so upset and I don't know how to make it upto him. I've been so unjust to you both. I am so sorry," she chokes
Suddenly a thought hits her and she wipes away her tears. "No Abhi, its your misconception we have lost everything. We still have our love. This baby is a proof of that love. Right now its only the pain and anger that has taken over, but, there is no bitterness and hatred between us. I know deep within you, you still love me Abhi and this love will surely surface some day. Just like your love got me out of my misconception, my love will get you out of yours."
She caresses her stomach. "I love you baby and I love your father too. Do tell it to him whenever you can."
For almost an hour, Abhi stood under the gushing shower, letting the water pour and pour over him, hoping it would wash away the pain and agony he was going through, but, the pain just refused to go.
Sometime later, having showered and changed, when he enters the house, he finds Nikki sleeping curled up on the couch. A wave of negative emotions engulfs him making his whole body go stiff. He then sees her arms wrapped around her stomach and his heart starts melting. Shaking his head in annoyance, at the inner conflict, he constantly goes through, he slowly walks over to the couch and lifts her up in his arms. He can see that, inspite of being in deep sleep, her arms do not leave her stomach.
Going into their room, he gently lays her down on the bed. Then going down on his haunches, he places his hand on her stomach tormented by the thought how distressing it must have been for the baby when he unleashed all his anger on Nikki.
"I am sorry baby," he whispers. "Right now I am too angry and hurt with your mother, but, I want you to know I love you very much and mean no harm to either of you. I love you. I love''." He looks at Nikki and chokes as a lump forms in his throat.
He then stands up abruptly and going over to the other side of the bed, lies down.
PRECAP TO PART 20
No, I don't feel like it," Nikki begins to protest.
"You must eat darling," Kavita tells her. "You must be ravenous by now. Its so late aren't you hungry?"
"I am a bit, but I don't have an appetite"
"Eat up" Abhi tells her firmly, his eyes steely as he looks at her. "See that she eats," he tells her mother.
Nikki knew it would be disastrous to overrule him.
"Is Omlette okay Nikki" Jas asks her.
Nikki nods her head at him with a smile.
Darting a frosty glance at her, Abhi stands up and walks into the house.