"Nikki, please stay here, " Abhi implores. "I'll try to alert someone by banging on the door."
He just hoped if it was a power failure, the back up generators were doing their job. "Of course, they will," he reminds himself.
Nikki too was wondering why the lights had gone off. Is it only her cabin lights or a major power failure ?
"Just imagine Abhi, if I was alone in the cabin and this happened?" She begins to shudder at the thought
"Nikki, relax! I am here with you," Abhi pacifies her, putting his arm around her. "So don't worry!"
"Yeah, Thank God, Abhi you are here with me or else I would have died," she buries her head into his chest.
"NIKKI!" Abhi snaps irritatedly. "Get a hold on yourself ! Don't say such things. It makes me me angry. Trust me. Nothing will happen. I won't let anything happen to you."
"Promise?" she asks softly, looking expectantly into his face.
Through the dim light coming from the torch, Abhi can see the fear and apprehension in her eyes. He knew she was beginning to worry on every little thing. It was normal at this stage of pregnancy.
Tenderly, he smiles at her. He tightens his left arm that was around her. Then with the other hand he slowly raises her hand to his lips and lovingly kisses it. "Promise," he confirms
Nikki was joyous. She places her head on his chest and snuggles into the warmth of his embrace. For long moments, they stand revelling in the warmth of the other. No word is being uttered.
Nikki, then tilts her head backward and looks up at Abhi. He can see the love and tenderness in her eyes. The graveness of the situation is all forgotten as they stare passionately at each other, their hearts beat rapidly, their breath fanning the other. As if in a daze, Abhi's hand reaches for her face and gently caresses her jawline . Nikki closes her eyes and lifts her face to him. He then bends his face lower till his lips were merely a brushing distance from hers. Nikki is dismayed when he stops. She feels a hot ache on her lips.
"Nikki," Abhi whispers. There is deep passion in his voice. Nikki open her eyes. She can see the intensity in his eyes. Then, burning with desire, Abhi places his lips on hers.
The lights suddenly come on startling them.
"Ah! Ah! Few minutes ago they were fighting now, they are in each other's arms." They are shocked to hear Armaan's voice.
Drawing apart they find Armaan, Riddhima and the rest of the gang watching them with amusement.
"For your kind information, your fight was getting nonsensical, so I switched off the lights, pulled the phone wires off hook and locked the door to get you to stop your fight," Armaan tells them. "See how successful we are! Right ?" he looks around at the others for confirmation. There was laughter from everyone.
Abhi and Nikki are completely flustered.
"I've said this many times before, Armaan. The hospital is not a playground" an embarrassed Abhi admonishes him feebly. He was feeling foolish, like a school kid caught in a silly act. "You know I don't like fooling around in the hospital." There was irritation in his voice.
"Haan Haan pata hai," Armaan tells him. "That is why you are behaving as if you are in your bedroom''. fighting and romancing your wife,"
Abhi darts a murderous look at him, while everyone laugh. Nikki's cheeks have now turned crimson red.
"Armaan!" She chides him. "You scared us!"
"Hey what are you complaining about?" Armaan teases her. "You had an opportunity to be in your husband's arms during working hours. With Dr. Moody you know how difficult is that! Haan, if your upset for breaking your kiss, I apologise for being a spoilsport," he tells her tongue in cheek. "Whether Dr. Moody cares or does not care, I definitely care for his reputation. Hai na ?" he winks at Abhi.
"You Dog!" Abhi flings a pen at his face and had Armaan not ducked, the pen would have hit right on target. He returns a wide grin to Abhi. There is peals of laughter in the room while Abhi and Nikki look helplessly at each other.
Finally, with the excuse of having to complete some work, Abhi quickly makes his escape. Armaan, too, says he has to collect some certificates from the office and walks out of the cabin. The others follow him. Walking in the corridor, Riddhima quietly drags Nikki to the terrace hoping to chat with her alone.
She tells Nikki she knows there is some problem between Abhi and her and wanted to know if she could do anything for them. Sensing Nikki's hesitation, she also assures that she was okay if Nikki was not comfortable in talking about it to her.
"Oh Riddhima, you know if there is any person I would confide anything to, then it is you," Nikki tells her friend.
She then relates the Park Hotel incident and all that had transpired between Abhi and her because of it.
Riddhima was aghast. She was also apologetic for bringing up the topic at the party and begins to curse herself for it. However, Nikki would not hear of it.
"If I was in your place, I would have been asking the same questions Riddhima. We are close friends. I would be equally excited to know about your experiences" Nikki explains to her.
"I think whatever happens, happens for the best. Perhaps we needed this rift ," she assures Riddhima. "It has made us realize we don't just love each other but that, our love is a much more deeper. It is strong enough to keep us one inspite of all adversities." Nikki tells her.
"I know," Riddhma smiles affectionately at her. "I can see it."
Nikki smiles back. "It has made me even more determined to stand by Abhi and not falter, inspite of all the odds," she tells her with a faraway look. "I can also see he is working hard on it. He seems to be handling it much better than what I did. Inspite of all the anger and pain, he has not thrown insults at me like I did to him!" Nikki's eyes was filling up with pain as she remembers all the bad things she threw at Abhi
Riddhima tenderly puts a consoling arm around her. "Don't worry Nikki, everything will be fine." She begins to smile impishly. "In fact I can see everything is fine. You both get so lost into each other," she teases reminding Nikki of their moment in the cabin. Nikki blushes.
Wondering where had Riddhima and Nikki vanished, Anjali, Atul and Muskaan were searching all over for them till they were directed to the terrace by the nurse.
Peeping through the tiny window of the terrace door, they overhear Riddhima telling Nikki that its impossible for Abhimanyu to be angry with her for long. It won't take long for him to realize how much he loves his wife.
"I hope so!" Nikki sighs. "I know he loves me but I am waiting for the day, my husband comes back to me, free from all anger and resentment."
The three people behind the door were shocked at their conversation.
"Looks like Dr. Modi is still upset with Nikki for that Sonali incident," Anjali tells her friends as they move away from the door and into the passage.
"Hmmmm," Muskaan and Atul mumble in agreement.
"Hey Guys, the fault was ours too and we need to rectify it," Atul tells them.
"Haan, but what can we do?" Muskaan asks
"We'll have to show Dr. Modi what a lovely wife Nikki is," Atul suggests
"How?" the girls ask him.
"We'll bring out Nikki's special qualities in front of him," Atul tells them and begins to whisper his plan.
Riddhima and Nikki were completely in dark of the new plan being hatched on the other side of the terrace door.
Finally the group decide to have dinner together.
Abhi and Nikki were unaware that every of their move every was under minute scrutiny by three pair of eyes.
While they were having dessert, Nikki asks Abhi to have the chocolate ice cream, since he wasn't haven't any dessert, but, he refuses saying he was not too fond of it.
"Just one bite!" lovingly she coaxes him holding a spoon of the ice cream to his mouth.
Abhi smiles at her persistence. Holding her hand, he takes the spoon closer to his mouth and swipes off the ice-cream from it. A satisfied Nikki smiles at him. Then taking a tissue she dabs his lips. "How Sweet!" Riddhima exclaims, exchanging smiles with Armaan. Taking the cue, Atul, Anjali and Muskaan wink at each other.
"Yes, what a loving and caring wife Nikki is!" they too exclaim excitedly. They were so loud that they were heard by the whole restaurant.
Abhi, Nikki, Armaan and Riddhima were startled by their bombastic announcement.
The three charged doctors on mission carried on their endeavours even on to the next day.
When Abhi was passing in the corridor he finds the three in deep discussion.
"Good Morning Doctors," he greets them "Is there a problem? You all look quiet tense!" His unnanounced appearance make them nervous. They shift in discomfort hoping he did not hear their conversation. Noticing them avoiding his gaze, his eyes narrow in suspicion.
At that moment, Dr. Keerti was passing with a pregnant patient. On being greeted by the patient, Abhi smiles at her and asks if everything was fine with her, to which she nods. After the two leave, Atul goes closer to Abhi.
"Dr. Modi, hasn't this Mrs Kumar gone fat," Abhi is taken aback with his question.
"That's because she is five months pregnant, Dr. Atul," he replies.
"But then Nikki is going to be in her sixth month soon," Anjali reminds him. "Yet, she hasn't put on too much weight. Except for her cute bulge, nothing else reveals her pregnancy."
Abhi looks dumfounded at them. He cannot believe his wife's anatomy is the topic of discussion here.
"Not everyone is the same," he explains to them.
"Yeah, Nikki is different and special!" they squeal loudly startling Abhi whose eyes widen in astonishment.
"Yeah I know, I know, what is there to yell?" he asks them " and why is Nikki being glorified all of a sudden ?"
"Because she is special," they tell him promptly
"But she has always been special, Have you guys noticed it only recently?"
Now it was their turn to look dumbfounded. 'Who is telling who?' they wondered. He was telling them what they are trying to tell him.
Looking at their blank expressions, Abhi shakes his head in exasperation and walks away.
Only Nikki can understand her friends! They were beyond his understanding and he wasn't even going to waste his time getting there.
Sometime in the afternoon, a doctors' meeting having just finished, the doctors begin to leave the room one by one. When Nikki reaches the door, she is stopped by Abhi.
"Nikki, please wait. I want to ask you something, give me a minute." He starts collecting his papers and putting them in a folder.
Nikki's heart is filled with tenderness as she watches him. They've hardly spoken since last night. By the time they reached home, Nikki fell asleep and when she awoke in the morning, he had already left for work. Neither did they get an opportunity to see each other at Sanjeevani as they were caught up with an extremely busy morning.
Nikki remembers, everytime she stirred into awakeness in the night, she always found Abhi's tender arms around her. A smile breaks on her face.
Watching the two, Atul Muskaan and Anjali nudge each other.
"Oye Nikki, how do you manage to stay so beautiful inspite of your pregnancy?" Muskaan asks her pulling her back into the room.
"Yeah isn't she beautiful Dr. Modi?" Anjali asks him earnestly.
"I notice that everyday Dr. Anjali," Abhi tells her sardonically. When he looks at Nikki, his eyes begin to fill with passion. "Infact, she is becoming more beautiful with every passing day," he drawls, his eyes peering intensely at her. Nikki blushes at his compliment.
"That's fine!" Atul tells him "But do you tell that to her?"
"Excuse Me?" Abhi looks bewildered at Atul.
Nikki's eyes also widen with shock.
"What I tell my wife is none of your business Dr. Atul," Abhi thunders fiercely at him.
"Guys, what is the matter with you all?" Nikki is flummoxed at the behavior of her friends. 'Why are they acting so weird?'
"Oye Nikki, don't worry yaar, we are there for you. We are only trying to remove all problems between you and your husband" Muskaan tells Nikki, lowering her tone, but it did not escape Abhi's ears.
An appalled Nikki jerks up as she looks at Abhi. She can see the colour draining from his face. His eyes narrow darkly as he stares unhappily at her.
She shakes her head in a bid to negate Muskaan's words.
"Abhi....." she mouths in despair.
"Doctors, I think you need to concentrate on your work and how to be better doctors," There was coldness in Abhi's voice. "Leave us to deal with our lives. We don't need any interference from anyone. Now please leave." He snarls at them.
The harshness in his voice and frigidity in his eyes send alarming signals to all three. They quickly hasten out of the conference room.
The room is tense, engulfed with an uneasy silence. Hands clammy, Nikki slowly wobbles towards Abhi. There was sadness and pain in his eyes.
"Nikki, I would really appreciate if you could keep our problems between us and not go telling it to everyone."
"Abhi......but....I........." He raises his hand to stop her. Looking at the pleading in her eyes, he shuts his eyes as if gathering strength. He then opens it and there is softness in them.
"Look Nikki, I do understand, things haven't been good between us for the past few months. I also understand you feel the need to unburden on to someone and I am no help on that front. But, please not them!" there was pleading in his voice. "I can still understand you talking to Riddhima about it but not them. I know they are nice, they are your friends and are very fond of you, but they lack the maturity to handle their own problems and because of them, I don't want our personal life bared open to the whole world. What we have, should remain between us."
Nikki stares at him. She could not believe he was saying those words. He was not lashing angrily at her like he always did.
"Abhi...." she did not know what to say, completely at a loss for words.
"Anyway, forget all this!" He tells her shrugging it off with the shake of his head. "I've been wanting to ask you," he pauses briefly. "If you are upto it, can we go out for dinner today?"
Nikki is all the more stumped. There was no anger or bitterness, infact, it has been replaced with some kind of tenderness.
"Nikki are you there?"
"Haan?" a dazed Nikki snaps back as she finds Abhi's fingers clicking in front of her face.
"Shall we do dinner tonight? Just you and Me?" he asks, his eyes beginning to gleam happily in anticipation.
"And Me too!" Sid bursts into the room
Abhi rolls his eyes. "Not again!" he mutters under his breath.
He looks daggers at Sid. "Who asked you to come here? And, can't you hear I said only Nikki and me."
"But Nikki Bhabhi won't mind if I join you! After all I am her favourite. Right bhabhi?" he asks, a wide boyish smile on his face.
It was true, Nikki was quiet fond of her brother in law, but, right now, she was exuberant by her husband's special attention towards her. She did not want to miss this lovely opportunity. She wonders how to tell Sid, without breaking his heart.
Glancing at the two people in front of her, she notices Sid's face was dancing with mischief while Abhi's was crestfallen. She managed to catch the apprehension in his eyes as if wondering whether, once again she was going to give preference to someone else over him. But, it was only for a fleeting moment. Realising she was reading him, his expression changes to indifference.
"So I am going for dinner too!" Sid confirms.
Abhi shakes his head in annoyance.
"But.......Sid.........Abhi and I......"Nikki strutters
"Whaat?" Abhi and Nikki look perplexed at him
"I am taking Simran out to dinner," he tells them excitedly. "She agreed! I was only teasing you both," there was an impish smile on his face.
Abhi and Nikki are relieved.
Hearing her cell phone ring, Nikki answers it.
"Where are you?"
"In the basketball court," she replies.
"I told you to wait in your cabin."
"There was nothing to do and I just felt like fresh air Abhi.
"Ok I'll be there in few minutes." He disconnects.
Nikki smiles. As Abhi got delayed, he had asked her to wait in her cabin. However, Nikki was too excited to be tied to one place. She felt so light, so happy in her heart. She wanted to be out in the open, so she ended up strolling in the basketball court. Though it was dark, she wasn't afraid today. Perhaps she was too excited to let anything affect her. She closes her eyes and stretches her arms on either side of her, enjoying the pleasant evening breeze as it blew softly against her face and hair.
Her body suddenly turns prickly sensing the presence of someone behind her. She opens her eyes wondering if it was Abhi and she spins around.
All tasks completed, Abhi exhales in relief. Atlast, he can be with Nikki.
Dashing out few last minute instructions to the nurses and receptionist on his way out, he heads towards the rear exit which led to the basketball court from the mini mart side.
"Dr. Modi," Muskaan calls him from behind.
Uff! Abhi was beginning to lose his patience. It was becoming very difficult to catch a few moments with his wife. Either, they were too busy or there are constant interruptions.
"Yes Dr. Muskaan" he replies wearily.
"Dr. Modi I need to talk to you about Mr. Khanna, the patient admitted today for peptic ulcer. Dr. Keerti has already left and Dr. Shashank will return only tomorrow morning. "
"Thank God, for a change, you are talking about a patient and not Nikki," Abhi tells her wryly. "Well what about him ? His surgery is scheduled for tomorrow right?"
"Yeah 11 am. Right now everything is under control, but, looking at his endoscopy results, I feel we need to to take some extra precaution for the night. Can I discuss it with you?"
"Ok fine, " Abhi nods. "but first lets catch Nikki. She is waiting for me. We'll discuss it then.
As they near the basketball, they see Nikki near the stands. She was facing them. Suddenly their eyes widen in horror as they see two men stealthily approaching Nikki from behind, with hands ready to grab her.
"Hey!" yells Abhi dashing towards them.
"Hey Stop !" Muskaan also yells out, running behind him.
Just as Nikki turned, she heard Abhi's voice. Before she realized what was happening, she was pushed against the stand by one man and another snatched her bag that was lying on the stand . Instinctively, she holds her stomach with one hand and with the other, she clamps her hand firmly on the stand, breaking the fall and managing to save herself from any injury. She then sees the two men running towards the gate.
"Are you okay Nikki?" Abhi asks worriedly as he reaches her.
"I am fine," She tells him. "Muskaan take care of her" Abhi yells as he sprints after the goons.
He knew they were heading to the rear gate of the hospital that was mostly used for loading and unloading purposes. He manages to run ahead of them, just as they reached the gates of the basketball court. He then stops and turns to confront them blocking any escape. The place was dark with barely one light. One of the goons pulls out a knife and brandishes it at Abhi.
Nikki and Muskaan watch in horror as the gleaming knife is flashed at Abhi's face.
PRECAP TO PART 32
The goons were struggling to get away from Abhi's grip.
Nikki and Muskaan can see someone come behind Abhi. It was too dark for them to see his face. However, they notice he had something like a bat in his hand.
"Abhi, watch out!" Nikki yells. But it was too late. Abhi is hit on the head. He felt as if the whole world was spinning wildly. He staggers back loosening his grip on the goons. Taking advantage, they throw a few hard punches on his face. Nikki's heart begins to sink. She can hear Muskaan calling for help, but her own voice betrays her.