Next day, when Nikki wakes up she realizes that she was on their bed. It was almost 10 am. She remembered sitting on the couch last waiting for Abhi to come in. When did she come to their room? Did Abhi bring her here? It must have been.
'I wonder how his mood is today.' she thinks. ' I really hope he has calmed down. God please, please let him not be angry anymore,' she prays.
When she goes out, she finds Abhi, Kavita and Jas sitting out in the lawn joking and laughing. Abhi was seated on, Nikki's favourite, two seater love swing while Jas and her mother had occupied the other 2 chairs. He did seem cheerful as she watches him exchanging a high five with Jas which she guessed was because of them teasing Kavita. Anxiously, she walks towards them till she reaches the swing
"Ah here comes my daughter, now I'll have her support" Kavita says happily, looking at Nikki. "Come Darling, join us."
"You think so?" Jas counters "Nikki will be on our side. What do you say Nikki?" he asks cheerfully.
Nikki smiles at them and then looks at Abhi, apprehensively. She notices he isn't looking at her, but the tautness in his body speaks of the effect, her presence is having on him.
"Big Deal!" Kavita mocks Jas. In their banter, the two of them are unaware of the tension between the younger couple.
Abhi has stopped his swinging. Not looking at her, he has pressed his foot firmly to the ground to steady the swing, so that she was able to sit on it. Nikki's heart begins to flutter with happiness. Once she is seated, he releases his foot and the swing sways. Sitting nervously beside him, Nikki notices the bruises on his knuckle . She is overcome with an urge to reach out and touch his hand, but, she could sense he was still upset with her.
"Slept Well Darling?" Kavita turns her attention to Nikki. Nikki nods her head.
"Good you left early. You would have been even more exhausted. We got home only early morning. Thank God its, Sunday, atleast we can laze around." Kavita tells her.
"Yeah I agree," Jas stretches lazily.
"Must say Darling, you were looking so stunning yesterday," Kavita was beaming with pride. " Infact, everyone was saying how gorgeous you looked and that was such a beautiful saree, when did you buy that?"
Nikki looks adoringly at Abhi who stiffens. Following her gaze, Kavita looks at Abhi with appreciation.
"Abhi? you got it for her? Wow ! I must say it shows how much you love your wife!"
Nikki could see Abhi tightening his fists on the seat. She was worried he would erupt.
"What are your plans for today Mom?" she quickly changes the topic.
"Oh no plans at all. I was telling Abhi we should be going soon," Kavita tells her
Nikki looks sadly at her mother. After all these years, its only now she got back her mother, in the real sense of the word and that too for such a short while. But, then with the tension between Abhi and her, perhaps its best her mother doesn't stay.
"However," Kavita continues. "Abhi insists we stay on for some more time." Nikki is overwhelmed. She looks at him with grateful eyes, but, he still isn't looking looking at her.
"Yeah and now we have decided to stay for some more time, we have great plans for Kavita." Jas says winking at Abhi.
"Nikki do something about these guys," Kavita tells her, irritation in her tone. "They have been troubling me for so long,"
"Arre, you call that trouble and here we have taken the trouble to make such nice plans for you, Right Abhi?" The corner of Abhi's lips twitch in amusement.
"Do you know what their plans are?" Kavita tells Nikki.
Nikki raises her eyebrow questioningly.
"They plan to take me to different dhabas, everyday." She scowls at Jas.
Nikki is amused knowing how unwelcoming the idea is for her mother.
"Okay Darling, now that you are here, I wanted to ask you both something." Nikki looks worriedly at her mother, wondering what it could be. "Sonam and Rohit are going for their honeymoon only next Sunday. This week they going to Delhi to visit his ancestral home and then they will return on Friday. They are having a dinner for very close friends next Saturday and we are all invited. I would love to invite the newly weds for dinner, to our place, this Saturday. Is that okay with you both ? Abhi?" she asks.
"It's a wonderful idea," Abhi tells her with a smile.
Pushpa comes out bringing a glass of juice for Nikki. "What will you like to have for breakfast bhabhiji?" She asks.
Nikki looks at Abhi and asks softly, "Have you eaten?"
Abhi does not answer her.
"Oh yes," Kavita replies. "Jas made some lovely wholesome omlettes for us and we were all so famished, we swiped it all up" Kavita tells her with a laugh.
"Chalo Nikki, I'll make breakfast for you too," Jas tells her fondly.
"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" Nikki makes an unhappy face.
"Eat up" Abhi tells her firmly, his eyes steely as he stares at her. "See that she eats," he tells her mother rising up from the swing.
Thank God! atleast something got him to look at her. Nikki is relieved.
She knew it would be disastrous to overrule him.
"Is Omlette okay Nikki" Jas asks her.
Nikki nods her head at him with a smile. Jas goes into the house.
Darting a frosty glance at her, Abhi too follows him in.
Nikki watches him, dying to follow him in, but, her mother begins to talk to her.
"Nikki, I had emailed your dad and told him everything that had transpired between us and asked him for his forgiveness. Finally he replied back and has forgiven me. Now I am at peace," she says in relief.
"I know its a quiet late in the day. The equation between us has changed now. Jas is a nice man and he keeps me happy and I am glad your father has got a nice person like Shyla in his life. We can never get back those days ever, but, like Abhi says we should not retain bitterness and resentment within us.
"I have nothing to give to this relationship Nikki. I gave it all I had," Abhi's words echoes in her ears.
"Now, I will give my all for our relationship, Abhi," Nikki decides in her mind. "I am not going to give up."
"Finally I have made peace with your dad and now I am at peace," Kavita continues.
"I can't wait for so long," Nikki thinks. "I want my loving husband back soon."
As she walks into their room, Nikki finds Abhi has showered and changed into a blue shirt, unbuttoned to the chest, and jeans. He was looking so dashing, she wanted to run and hug him. They keep looking at each other for few seconds. After a hard stare at her, Abhi walks towards the door.
As he passes her, Nikki holds his hand from behind. Abhi halts. She then turns and faces his back. Going closer to him, she puts her arms around him from behind and rests her head on his back.
"Abhi," she whispers in his ears. "how long will you keep ignoring me like this? We live in the same house."
"I think, these past few weeks, we've managed pretty well on that front haven't we?" he tells her sarcastically
"I know you are upset with me Abhi and you have every right to be, but, I want you to know I'll be waiting for the day you will be able to forgive me."
There is a whole array of conflict going on within Abhi. The touch of her fingers caressing the bareness of his chest and the feel of her body on his back were weakening his resolve. With a heavy heart he shuts his eyes tightly. He then places his hands on hers and squeezes her fingers to stop its caressing. He then slowly pulls them away and turns to face her. There was hardness in his eyes as he gently, but, firmly pushes her hands to her sides.
He then places his hand on the swell of her stomach.
"I want you to take good care of the baby," he tells her crisply. "You will eat, drink, exercise, take your medicines, rest and do all that is required for the baby. NO FUSSING AROUND." His voice was authoritative.
Nikki looks at him with hurt in her eyes.
"Now Only the baby matters to you, right?" she asks him poutily
Taking a deep breath, he raises an eyebrow.
"If you really want to know ?" his eyes were mocking "then YES." He emphasizes.
Nikki is annoyed. She makes a face at him.
"Fine, don't bother about me! Why will you? You don't care about me anymore right? Its only the baby for you, then baby only it will be!" she grumbles
"Nice to see you are learning fast!" he tells her sarcastically.
Nikki scowls at him. A glint of amusement flicker in his eyes.
"Dr. Mr & Mrs. Modi, here we come!" it was Atul, Anjali and Muskaan.
"Here come your friends!" Abhi tells her. "They wanted to spend the day with you to celebrate your joining Sanjeevani tomorrow. So you have a nice time. I am off."
"Abhi, Listen!" Nikki calls out tenderly "Where are you going?"
"For a long drive!"
"Alone?" Nikki is surprised.
"Now that you know its not possible. I'll always find some company right?" he taunts. Nikki can sense he is deliberately trying to annoy her.
"I want to come with you." She implores sulkily.
"Oh now, you mustn't do that. Your friends and parents are here for you and you want to go away? That's not very nice. Is it?" he taunts again
"And you?" Nikki doesn't want him to go.
"All those, who matter the most to you, are here. I don't think I am in that list. So its best I go!"
"Dr. & Mrs. Modi enough of romance. Come out right now or we'll come in!"
"My, My, how romantic we are, Mrs. Modi!" Abhi teases, tongue in cheek.
Nikki looks disgruntled at him.
"Have fun and do take good care of the baby for me," Abhi tells her with a wicked grin. "Bye " he waves his hand and walks off.
"Oye Nikki, takes you so long to say goodbye to your husband," Muskaan bursts in to the room followed by Anjali and Atul
Then looking at Nikki's crestfallen face she says, "Hey why such a sad face?"
"How sweet! Looks like she didn't' want him to go," Anjali butts in.
"Imagine he is only going to Sanjeevani and she is so sad, what if, he went somewhere overnight!" Atul teases.
"What? Sanjeevani ?" Nikki is shocked.
"Yes, what did you tell you? He is going to meet his girlfriend?" Muskaan asks. They all laugh.
"He got an emergency call from Sanjeevani," Atul explains.
Nikki is seething inside. 'Dr. Abhimanyu Modi! You are just too much! Wait and watch, I won't let you ignore me!'
PRECAP TO PART 21
Abhi then pulls Nikki outside, till they find a corner. "I am warning you Nikki, cut this loving wife act in front of people. Its not going to work with me. I am trying my best to come to terms with the issues between us. I may forgive you for anything Nikki, but, if anything happens to this baby, I'll never ever forgive you for it. Never. Today, I managed to save you, but it need not always be the case. So take extra care. Don't make things even worse than what it is now, between us. Be warned."
Tears of hurt sting in Nikki's eyes.