The next day when Nikki opened her eyes, she was surprised to see her mother sitting beside her.
"Good Morning Sleeping Beauty," Kavita teases her.
"Hey Mom!" Nikki exclaims excitedly and sitting up stretches her aching body. "I am just unable to wake up early these days," she complains.
"Now that is something you cannot help," her mother tells her fondly. "Its because of your pregnancy, you do know that."
"I know, but I wish I am able to wake up before Abhi leaves," she tells her sadly. "I am sure he has already left for Sanjeevani."
"Yes, he left after I arrived, about half an hour ago."
Nikki is very disappointed.
"Its so good to see you Mom," she tells her hugging her tightly "You've hardly gone a few days and I am already missing you."
"I miss you too," Kavita tells her tears glistening in her eyes. "Since, today is the party for Rohit and Sonam, I thought I'll help you and Rachna with the arrangements."
Kavita was surprised to find her daughter clinging like a baby on to her.
"Is everything okay Darling?"
"Hmmm," Nikki nods, but her thoughts were with Abhi.
"Is Abhi still upset?" she wonders. "I really hope his mood is better today! Should I call him up?
'There you go again Nikki. Impatient as ever,' she chides herself. 'Give him some time. You decided that you won't trouble him.
"But, I will be so restless till I see him. I hope he atleast calls."
The house was filled with caterers and decorators with Rachna, Kavita and Nikki, overseeing the arrangements. Amid the activity in the house, her daughter in law's crestfallen face did not go unnoticed by Rachna Modi. She knew for that face to brighten up, the answer lay with her son.
"Hope that stubborn son of mine, atleast calls her," she prays.
"Nikki Darling, aren't you feeling well? You look tired," Kavita tells her unable to fathom her daughter's spiritless face.
Standing in a corner, Sid and Rachna exchange knowing looks.
"I am fine Mom!" Nikki replies casually.
"Tyayiji, I have a plan" Sid tells Rachna. "we should somehow get Bhai to call Bhabhi. We could tell him Bhabhi is not well or something like that."
"No Sid we mustn't do that," Rachna warns him. "Abhi doesn't like any interference between them and in any case its between a husband and a wife. They need to sort it out themselves. Don't worry, I know my son cares a lot about her and and I am convinced he'll call."
The phone did ring. With hopeful eyes Rachna and Sid watch as Nikki mechanically picks it up and answers it.
The erupting sparkles in her eyes told them that it was the most awaited caller on the line.
"Why aren't you picking up your phone," Abhi asks her firmly.
"Phone'? Oh! its in the room and I forgot to change its status from silent"
"Hmmmmm." he mumbles and then there was a brief silence. "How are you feeling now?" he enquires of her. "You seemed quiet exhausted. When I was leaving, you were sound asleep."
"Yeah this pregnancy is making me very drowsy especially in the mornings." she tells him.
"I can imagine! Especially looking at the way you are stressing yourself unnecessarily," Abhi chides. "Are you sure, you did not get any kind of hurt anywhere, yesterday?"
"No, No, I am fine," Nikki assures him.
"Good! I'll catch you later then, Bye."
"Abhi?" Nikki calls out quickly, not wanting him to disconnect.
"Er'..Er'..What time will you come home?" she asks him.
"Oh yes, I forgot to mention, I have one important meeting to attend to, in the late afternoon, so I think I'll make it just in time for the party. Take care of yourself." He pauses briefly.
"And For God's sake, just stay out of trouble." Nikki smiles at his emphasis of the last line.
"Ok, I will," she assures him.
"I have to go now," Abhi tells her softly
"Ok. Take care" Nikki tells him.
"Its more, you, who needs to take care. I am not pregnant," he tells her. "Well, it's a different thing, if you considered PIPS needing care," his voice had mischief in it.
"PIPS?" Nikki is puzzled. "What is that?"
"Pregnancy Induced Paternal Symptoms. For example yelling like a fishwife, loss of sanity''."
"Shut up!" Nikki laughs out aloud
Abhi was also grinning at the other end. There was a knock on his door.
"I have to rush," He tells her. "Bye," He disconnects the phone.
Flushed with happiness, Nikki puts down the phone.
Watching her elated face, Rachna and Sid shake hands and smile.
Nikki was dressed for the party.
"Where is Abhi? Why hasn't he come as yet ?" she wonders. She picks up the phone and dials his number. He doesn't answer.
Disappointed, she turns to look at herself in the mirror. She hoped she was looking good. She did feel good dressed in the green pastel saree teamed with a golden sleeveless blouse. Though her body was undergoing changes, except for the little bump that has now grown a little big and more clearly noticeable, there has not been major difference than what she was looking before. She had been constantly nagged by the thought, as her pregnancy progresses, she would be looking bad and frumpy. She smiles at the bump hidden beneath the flowing pallu of her saree. Never, knew one could feel so good about it. She is now nearing her 20th week which means she is almost halfway through her pregnancy.
Wow Nikki!" she smiles at herself in the mirror "and you still don't look bad at all!"
If there was any doubt of how she looked, it was immediately wiped out as she found herself staring at those mesmerized passionate eyes that were appraising her through the mirror.
The stunned expression and the soundless "Oh" frozen on his lips, added more colour to her already glowing face.
"Wow ! You look absolutely Sexy," Abhi drawls when he manages to find his voice. He, then, immediately closes his eyes and contorts his nose in embarrassment. . "Er'Er'.I meant HOT," Realizing perhaps that again was not the right word, he bites his lip. Nikki was amused at his difficulty in finding the right word. Trying to hide her smile, she lowers her eyes. "You look stunning!" Abhi finally manages and closes his eyes in relief. Nikki chuckles.
"Really? With this little bump here?" she puts her hand on her stomach, the little bit of insecurity still nagging her.
"Even more so with this little bump." He confirms with an irresistible smile.
Nikki blushes. She can see the desire forming in his eyes.
"You are quiet late," she tells him in a bid to divert his attention. "Come on get ready quickly,"
"Hmmm," he nods his eyes still fixed on to her.
Noticing, he was still rooted to the spot, Nikki makes eyes at him. "Go on! hurry up ! its time for the guests to arrive!"
"Okay, I will!" Abhi concedes reluctantly. He goes to the wardrobe and pulls out a pink shirt. Hanging it on the stand, outside, he walks into the bathroom.
Shaking her head with a smile, Nikki leaves the room.On the way to the living room, she meets Sid in the passage .
"Nikki Bhabhi, has Bhai come, I need to borrow a shirt from him."
"Yeah, but, he is in the shower," Nikki informs him and makes her way to the living room, where Rachna, Kavita and Jas were chatting.
"Wow you look lovely Darling!" Kavita tells her.
"Absolutely!" Rachna confirms.
"How does Abhi allow you to even leave the room looking as gorgeous like that," Jas says looking at her in awe.
Nikki colours under their compliments.
Few minutes later while they were chatting, suddenly they hear Abhi's loud explosive voice.
"Sid you idiot! Where the hell are you?"
Startled, they all look at each other with surprise.
"Sid come here at once."
"Now what did this boy do?" Rachna slaps her forehead.
"Don't worry Mama, I'll go check" Nikki tells her.
Walking into the passage, she meets Sid who was biting his nail.
"Sid what did you do?" she asks him, anxiously.
Before he could speak, they could hear Abhi yelling again.
"Sid, you idiot, if you don't come here right now, I'll kill you."
"Come on, Sid," Nikki anxiously pulls him by the hand. As they were entering the room, a petrified Sid walks behind her muttering, "Nikki Bhabhi please, please save me,"
Once inside, she gapes open mouthed at the sight in front of her. Abhi was standing near the open wardrobe. He was wearing black denims and his chest was bare. His shirts were strewn all over the bed.
"Abhi what happened ?" Nikki asks him, astonishment on her face.
"What happened?" Abhi exclaims looking completely miffed. "Ask that idiot behind you," he growls.
"Sid?" Nikki looks at him, her eyes widening with shock.
"And, Bloody Hell! you wore my shirt ?" Abhi asks in disbelief when realization hits him. "I thought you just took it away. You dared to wear it! You Idiot I won't leave you, I am going to kill you."
Sid ducks once again behind Nikki, holding her arms from behind.
"What the hell are you hiding behind her for? Just leave her alone" he fiercely warns Sid.
"Bhai'..Bhai'I was trying all those shirts, but eventually, I liked this shirt, the best" he grins sheepishly pointing out to the pink shirt he was wearing.
Nikki begins to giggle.
"Yooooou idiot," eyes narrowing with anger, Abhi advances towards them.
Sid gets scared and nudges Nikki towards Abhi.
"Abhi, Abhi" Nikki stops him, putting her hand on his chest. An electrifying sensation passes through Abhi with the sensuous touch of her hand.
"Abhi, Please let it be now, please." Nikki pleads
"Nikki you better stop sheltering this guy. He is already a spoilt brat and you are going to spoil him even more. Look at the way he has thrown my shirts and even has the audacity to wear the shirt I was planning to wear for the evening." he scowls at Sid.
"Bhai, don't get angry. After all I am your brother. I had to look good today!" Sid tells him, scratching his head.
"Why? is it your bloody wedding?" Abhi snaps. "and you think only my shirts make you look good, you chimpanzee."
Nikki was bubbling with laughter
"Bhabhi, look, look how my brother treats me," Sid complains poutily to Nikki whose face was filled with mirth.
"I'll show you how I really want to treat you," Abhi menaces towards him.
With difficulty Nikki stops laughing and blocks his way again.
"Abhi, please! we don't have the time now, please wear another shirt, look the guests will start entering any time.
"Haan Bhai, Bhabhi is right!" Sid calls from behind.
"Again, that idiot speaks," Abhi gets agitated. "Who asked for your bloody advice?" He roars at him.
Cupping his face affectionately, Nikki mouths a "Please,"
"Sid you better leave now," she calls out to him over her shoulder. She then turns her face sideways and makes eyes at Sid to leave.
She can see him biting his nails and quietly taking baby steps towards the door. His eyeballs were two petrified shining marbles. He was squirming under Abhi's ferocious preying gaze. She felt she was watching the fable of the mouse in the lion's den. She begins to giggle.
When he reaches the door post, Sid breathes in relief.
"Thank you Bhabhi, Thank you Bhai for the shirt!" Grinning he waves to them and runs of the room.
"Idiot!" Abhi roars after him.
Laughing heartily, Nikki moves forward and her head bangs softly into his chest. Suddenly her fingers begin to burn as she becomes aware of the bareness of his body. She flusters trying her best to resist the temptation of caressing his chest.
"Its because of you that idiot got saved today," Abhi tells her in annoyance, briefly glancing at her before looking towards the door again.
"Acha Baba, now don't spoil your mood," she tells him, tenderly drums her fingers on his chest.
"I tell you everyone is after my bloody life!" Abhi mumbles. He then looks down at her hands on his chest "and looks like you have made every provision of killing me today."
"Abhi!" she twitches her nose shyly at him and following his gaze to her hand on his chest, she nervously withdraws it
"Go Get '. Ready quickly'." She fumbles awkwardly, turning away from him. Then going towards the dressing mirror, she begins to brush her hair.
Abhi's eyes glint with mischief as he can sense her nervousness. Hiding a smile, he goes to the wardrobe and pulls out a blue shirt.
Nikki feels a hard thump inside her abdomen. She grimaces. Then, there was another one.
"Hey naughty baby," she whispers, massaging her stomach. "The party hasn't started as yet and you are already dancing," she smiles.
Buttoning his shirt, Abhi comes up behind her. He sees her hand on her stomach and her smiling face.
"Whats the matter? " he asks , looking at her through the mirror. "Is everything alright?"
"Absolutely fine," she assures him. " This little one here is already in a mood to party. Dancing all over the place. So trying to calm it down."
Abhi is amused with her reply. "Do you need my help?" he asks with a lopsided smile. Nikki flushes with colour.
Abhi stops buttoning his half undone shirt and moves close behind her. Pushing his hands under her arms, he places them on her stomach. Then with his right hand he slowly and rhythmically rubs her abdomen into a gentle massage. Tingling with happiness, Nikki turns her face sideways and looks lovingly at him. He looks down at her and smiles fondly.
"Is that calming the baby down?" he whispers into her ears. Nikki shuts her eyes. How does she tell him he has managed to calm down the baby but her own senses have been aroused. She opens her eyes and tongue-tied, she stares at him,
Abhi finds himself drowning into those big dark eyes. He begins to steel himself to resist, but, before he could realize it, he is trapped in their hypnotic spell. As if in a trance, his face advances closer and closer to hers. His fingers stops its caressing and slowly snakes about her stomach till a magnetic sensation heralds the meeting of her fingers. He moves his fingers, further into hers, forcing a respond, till they are firmly entwined into his. Closing her eyes, Nikki lifts her face to him.
With the last bit of resistance having left him, Abhi shuts his eyes in complete surrender. "Damn, Nikki you don't play fair at all," he mutters and puts his lips on hers. Nikki gasps. The soft touch of his lips over hers was like the first drop of water to a thirsty man.
The urgency in Abhi's kisses begin to increase as the fire kindles rapidly inside him. Their hunger for each other seem insatiable. They suddenly stop, unbolting their fingers into a release. Then in one united telepathic move, Nikki turns around to face him, just as he was attempting to turn her around. Their hearts hammering in a visible heaving, they stare at each other with longing and desire. With heated hastiness, Abhi then pulls her in his arms as his lips, once again, hungrily finds hers. Responding to him, Nikki moves her fingers on his bare chest into a slow caress.
"The party is outside what are you two doing inside?"
"This Armaan's habit of butting in between us, hasn't gone as yet," mumbles Abhi as he moves his lips seductively to the corner of her mouth.
"hmmm, I agree" Nikki drawls basking in the pleasure of his lips.
"I said Mr. & Mrs. Modi, the party is outside what important work you both are doing inside?"
"Armaaan!" Riddhima chides.
"ARMAAAAAN? RIDDHIMA??" They exclaim in unison looking astounded at each other."
They pull apart. After straightening themselves, they rush out and are amazed to see Riddhima and Armaan grinning at them, along with the rest of the gang.
"What was happening inside?" Armaan teases.
Abhi and Nikki flush with colour.
PRECAP TO PART 26
Sitting beside Rachna, Kavita, Jas, Amrita and her husband, Nikki was watching the group having fun dancing. Her heart was filled with joy watching Abhi's smiling face. After such a long time, he looked so happy and relaxed.
To her amusement, she saw Sid butting in between Abhi and Simran, wanting to dance with Simran, but Abhi would not allow it. He would stand and glare at Sid who would then move away pointing his finger bhangra style. Few minutes later he would be back doing the same thing again and again. Nikki couldn't help laugh watching the two of them.
She then finds Abhi watching her. Seeing her laugh, he smiles warmly at her. Nikki smiles back at him. She then sees him whispering something to Simran who looks at Nikki and smiles impishly. Abhi, then moves out of the dancing group and walks towards her.
Reaching her, he holds out his hand.
"Dance?" He asks with a charming smile.
"Abhi, Me? In that crowd ?" Nikki begins to shake her head nervously.
"Don't worry, I am there with you. Trust me!" he assures her