Next morning, Nikki is woken up up with the ringing of the phone. When she picks it up, it was a frantic Muskaan at the other end of the line asking for Abhi. Just then Abhi walks out of the shower and Nikki hands the phone to him. Muskaan tells him that he is needed in the hospital as Mr. Khanna is hemorrhaging and needs immediate surgery. It cannot wait till 11 am and she has already informed Dr. Shashank who is on his way too. Abhi tells her he would be there soon and puts the phone down.
While he was getting ready, Nikki enquires about his injuries and if his head was still paining. He tells her his head was less painful and he was fine.
Seeing the worry on her face, he assures her he was completely alright.
"I am perfectly fit for another helping of dessert," he teases "I only wish we had the time for it. Till then, we'll make do with this." He brushes his lips over hers, keeping it lingering for a moment and then sweeps it away. Nikki who was clearly not expecting it, gasps in excitement. Winking at her, he pats her cheek and with a bye he strides out of the room.
Intoxicated with his kiss, Nikki was rooted to the spot for a good few moments. Shaking her head in delight, she smiles to herself. She then remembers dreaming about Abhi telling her he loved her and she telling him the same, unaware it wasn't a dream.
She then spent the rest of the morning answering frantic calls from her mother, aunt, Simran, Rohit, Sonam, all who heard about Abhi being hurt and worriedly calling to check on him. When they came to know Nikki was first attacked they were even more distressed, but Nikki manages to calm them telling them that Abhi will be talking to the police about it.
Abhi on the other hand was caught up in a flurry of activities starting from Mr. Khanna's emergency surgery and the fight for operation theatres with a couple of emergencies coming up at the same time.
It was only by mid-afternoon that he had some free time before he got on to the next job. Going to his cabin, he slumps down on to his chair and shuts his eyes hoping to catch a few moments of peace. Life was definitely getting hectic by the day. Then, remembering the surprise he planned for Nikki, he opens his eyes and calls up Riddhima. He tells her what he wanted Armaan and her to do for him and pleaded her to secrecy from Nikki and rest of the gang.
Riddhima is overjoyed with his plan. When she puts down the phone, she recollects Nikki's words. "I know he loves me but I am waiting for the day, my husband comes back to me, free from all anger and resentment."
"Tonight you will know how wholeheartedly your husband loves you Nikki!" Happy for her friend, a jubilant Riddhima does a waltz till she falls into the strong arms of her surprised husband just as he was entering their room.
Abhi then calls Nikki and tells her that the police were checking the premises of the hospital and wants to have a discussion with him in the evening, so he may be delayed.
"You seem to be making a habit of arriving home, just at the time of any party Abhi," an annoyed Nikki chides him.
"I know Nikki, but, you know it can't be helped," he tries to reason.
"Fine," Nikki relents grudgingly. "but please take care of yourself!" she pleads, concern deeply in her voice.
Abhi smiles. Her love and concern takes away all the tension and pressures from him.
Just as he finished the call, there was a knock on the door of his cabin and a stocky man in his thirities enters.
"Hey Rajesh," Abhi greets him. "I was waiting for you."
Rajesh Suri was a detective and Abhi grew to like him especially since he selflessly went out of his way to help Abhi find Nikki. Ever since he received a message from Rajesh this morning, telling him, he wanted to discuss something urgent with him and did not want to do it over the phone, Abhi has been under severe stress.
"Hey Doc, I am going out for a few days on a case and while rummaging my files, I found these," he hands a white folder to Abhi. "It has your wife's pictures and other important papers you gave me at that time. I thought I should return them to you. I am sure everything is fine now at your end."
Abhi shakes his head and smiles at him. "Yeah, good. Thanks. We are expecting our baby."
"Hey Congratulations !"
Abhi thanks him again.
"Well there is something I need to tell," there was grimness on Rajesh's face. "Yesterday I was at the tea stall just few metres away from this place. The vendor told me for past few weeks, couple of guys have been checking with people around about you and your wife."
Abhi was stunned by his revelation. He told Rajesh about them being attacked the previous day. Rajesh tells him that there could be something more to it. "Just think of it, there are so many doctors in Sanjeevani, why is it, only you and your wife being checked out? I think you should be very careful. Wish I could look into the matter for you, but I am out for a week. If you want when I get back, I can help you with it. Till then you be on the alert," he warns. Abhi nods his head and thanked him when he was leaving.
"Nikki!" his thoughts go to her. "Were those guys trying to attack her? The hairs on his body prickled uncomfortably. There was a sudden fierce awakening to protect her. He has to see no harm comes to Nikki and their baby.
When the police came to see him, Abhi told them what Rajesh revealed to him. The police told him not to worry. They would look into the matter. After a lot of assurance from the police, Abhi begins to relax having decided he would not leave Nikki alone.
When he reaches home, he is greeted by two glum faced people. Nikki and Sid were at the end of their tether waiting for him.
"Sorry Guys, the cops took longer than I had imagined." He apologises sheepishly.
"The party has already started," Nikki pouts
"I know, I know. Don't worry, I'll be ready in a jiffy," he tells apologetically. Nikki makes a face at him.
"Ok, I'm going in for a shower. Please pull out a shirt for me," he tells her.
Nikki gives him a dirty look.
"Please, Please," he implores blinking his eyes at a sulking Nikki. Then patting her cheek tenderly, he dashes inside.
When he enters the room, he finds his pink shirt was already on the clothes stand. An affectionate smile breaks on his face. "Thank you wifey! You're the best!"
Few minutes later he strides out of the bathroom wearing black trousers and a towel slung over his shoulder. One end of the towel was on his head as he was wiping his hair He sees Nikki sitting at the edge of the bed, twisting the ends of her dupatta in irritation.
Not wanting to make the mistake of looking at her, he walks towards the dresser. Nikki is surprised by his ignoring of her. 'Is something bothering him?' she wonders. 'Looks like he had a rough day at Sanjeevani."
Abhi moves the towel down on to his back and tries to wipe the little drops of water off it. Nikki goes up behind him and puts her hands on his, the touch of their finger tips sending electrifying sensations to their whole body.
Taking the the towel from him, Nikki wipes his back.. She was so tempted to run her hand all over his sturdy, muscular back.
Shaking the thoughts from her mind, she looks into the mirror and finds Abhi intensely watching her. She realizes she had stopped wiping his back. A flirty smile begins to play on his lips as if he sensed her thoughts. Averting his gaze, she proceeds to complete her task.
"Abhi?" she calls out softly
"Is everything alright at Sanjeevani?"
"And are you okay? Your injuries?
"Yeah they are fine"
"Let me have a look at it, turn," she insists trying to turn him around.
"Nikki, believe me, its fine," Abhi tells her as he turns. "Aren't we getting late now?"
Ignoring his protest, Nikki begins checking his scars, "Good the scrapes are healing well. Hardly noticeable except for the one on your cheekbone. But that's not too bad either."
It was as if she was talking to herself because Abhi was finally making the mistake he had been trying to avoid the moment he got off the car and his eyes fell on her. The mistake of looking at her properly .
She was dressed in a red dress with light golden work on it, held by golden beaded sphagetti straps on the shoulder, a red dupatta with gold border lying against her throat and a matching plain red churidar.
She looked so fiery that Abhi was sure he was going to be burning right through the evening. In his mind, he was already thinking of cancelling his surprise for her tonight, even cancelling the dinner at Rohit's. To hell with everything! He was turning feverish with heat.
"Abhi where are you?"
"Are you okay?"
"Then why are you so preoccupied?"
"Its You!" he wanted to blurt out. "N....No...... Nothing," he strutters instead.
"Ok tell me am I looking okay?" She looks at him eagerly
Abhi knew, she was aware she was looking good, but, she was looking for an acknowledgement from him . He tries to hide a smile.
"Yeah nice!" he tells her offhandedly, brushing past her as he walks towards the stand and picks up his shirt.
Nikki's face fell. "Only nice?" she wonders.
She knew she was looking more than just nice. She turns and looks into the mirror again. Her action makes Abhi want to laugh. With difficulty he manages to stifle his laughter.
Nikki wonders what was wrong. She knew Abhi loved to see her in this colour. Is it her hair? but then she has always left it loose like this. Her face ? Her stomach ?" She puts her hand on her belly.
Buttoning up his shirt, an amused Abhi comes up behind her and asks "Something wrong?"
"Haan?" Nikki comes out her musing "No, I was wondering if I should change"
"Why? What's wrong?
"I don't feel right about the dress."
She begins to walk past him. Holding her hand from behind, Abhi stops her. "Why do you want to break my heart?"
Turning sideways, she looks puzzled at him. "What do you mean?"
Abhi tugs her hand gently and pulls her into his arms.
"When you are looking so stunning, so gorgeous, so beautiful, why do you want to change and break my heart?" his voice carried a sensuality she found very irresistible.
"Then why did you say I looked only nice?" she asks him with a feeble sulk.
"I thought you'll be bored if I said the same things again and again, even if its true." He teases
Nikki drums her fists on his chest.
"You meanie!" she tells him hotly,
"Really? and what are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know exactly how stunningly gorgeous you are looking and still fishing for compliments eh?" there was teasing in his smile.
Nikki's cheeks turn red with embarrassment at the truth of his words.
"Yeah, but there is only one hitch!" she whispers
"And what is that?"
"My stomach looks as if it has a half watermelon stuck on it."
Abhi guffaws loudly doubling up with mirth. Nikki too joins him and for few moments the room was filled with their laughter.
Nikki is joyous to see Abhi laugh like this. She gapes in wonderment at him as it was such a rare sight for her. She had been noticing, for the past few days, he seemed to be much calmer and happier. Today, It was as if the dark clouds had completely evaporated from within him. There was only brightness on his face. Does this mean he has finally forgiven her? She desperately wanted to know.
"Abhi, have you forgiven me?" Unintended, her voice carries her desperate thoughts.
Abhi's mirth filled face tenses for a few seconds. He then looks at her and finds her looking earnestly at him. He wanted to tell her he loved her completely, from every beat of his heart and there was no place for any negative feelings anymore.
But now was not the right time, he'll do it when he surprises her tonight. Now he'll tease this imp a little more.
"Abhi?" she whispers, nudging him out of his musings.
"Without a punishment? Do you think its fair?" he asks her pretending hurt. "I want my pound of flesh!"
"You know Abhi this is the first time I, willingly, want to put myself through punishment. Do you know why?"
Abhi shrugs trying to figure out the answer. "Because sometime or the other, we all want to atone for our mistakes?"
"No!" Nikki shakes her head. "because YOU paid heavily for my mistake!'
Abhi feels his heart ripping apart as he looks at the stark honesty in her eyes.
"So tell me Abhi what is your pound of flesh?
Abhi slowly releases her from his hold. Hiding a smile he turns to the mirror and begins to brush his hair. "Let it go Nikki, You won't be able to do it!'
Nikki approaches him from behind and putting her arms around him, places her hands on his chest.
"Try me Abhi!" she prods.
"Sure?" he questions with the raise of his eyebrow.
"Yeah," Nikki nods, resting her chin on his shoulder.
He turns and bringing his face close to hers, looks deeply into her eyes.
"Hmmm, well lets see its always me making the first move. This time I want you to do it."
"Seduce me!" he tells her tongue in cheek.
Nikki gasps, incredulity in her eyes. The mischief dancing in his eyes makes her cheeks turn rosy pink. Looking at her blushing profusely, Abhi grins widely.
It was then, Nikki realized, he had forgiven her completely. She didn't need him to tell it to her. There was no anger or resentment left in him at all. She can see it all in his eyes. Her own eyes begin to turn misty with happiness.
"Afraid? " Abhi teases her. Lifting his finger, he seductively plays it all over her face. "Today, after dinner, when we get back, I want to be seduced by my beautiful wife!" he drawls flirtatiously
"You forgot to add, five and a half months pregnant wife who......"
"feels she has a half watermelon stuck on her stomach." Abhi is filled with laughter as he completes it for her.
Nikki nods her head as she laughs with him.
"Hmmm........Let me tell you, You are one hell sexy for a pregnant lady!" his mesmerised eyes displaying the truth of his words
The colour deepens on Nikki's cheeks as his eyes continue to rove all over her.
"Abhi........how..........I.......I........." she strutters.
"Making excuses? Its okay Nikki, I don't think you can do it," pretending to be dejected, he turns back to the mirror, mischief lurking in his eyes. "I already told you before, Leave it!"
Nikki goes closer to him and watches him through the mirror.
"Dr. Abhimanyu Modi are you challenging me?" she asks in a husky voice.
"I am!" he holds her gaze unflinching, through the mirror.
Slipping her arms around him and going on tiptoes, she brushes her lips against his ear.
"Do you realize, even if I agree, you will have to wait the whole evening for it?" She teases impishily.
Abhi smiles at her pertness
"I am pretty confident it will be worth the wait," he tells her, his lips contorting lopsidedly as he smiles. "So, I will wait for tonight. Not now, not at the party, only when we get back."
"I don't think so Dr. Modi, before that, you'll be making the first move," she defies.
"Are you challenging me Dr. Ni--ki--ta?" he mocks, holding onto her fingers that were enticingly playing on his chest.
"I am!" she nods with challenging smile.
"Hmmmm............interesting! Playing a game with me eh ? You think I will not be able to resist you and will make the first move like always? Pretty conceited aren't We!"
"Na....Na....Naan.......... Not conceit. Just knowing my husband better," she chirps playfully.
"You forget something, dear wifey. I can be very firm when I want something and I want my pound of flesh." There was steel in his eyes and firmness on his face.
"Fine! Tonight, we will see who makes the first move!" Nikki challenges. "Deal?"
He pulls her in front of him and brings his face closer to hers. "Yeah we'll see who makes the first move. Deal!" he confirms with a magnetic smile, touching his forehead to hers.
There is a loud knock on the door and Sid bursts into the room.
"Bhai, Bhabhi! Whats taking you so long. We are already late."
Abhi rolls his eyes in annoyance.
"Remind me to get an electronic device for our room which will give access only to us." He tells her.
"Come On Bhai, Hurry Up!" Sid prods him.
"May I know what's your hurry ?" Abhi scowls at him.
"Don't you know ? Someone is waiting for him!" Nikki tells Abhi, teasingly glancing at Sid.
Scratching his head, Sid blushes.
"Who?" hiding a smile, Abhi pretends he didn't know. He catches Sid by the collar. "Look Sid if you trouble Simran today, I won't spare you." He warns.
"Uffo, as it is, we are so late. Lets go!" Nikki manages to separate them.
She nudges Sid ahead.
Following him out, she suddenly tilts backwards, surprising her husband who was following her. His protective hands automatically go around her waist. Her back safely resting against his chest, she looks at him, her eyes twinkling with mischief
"You better concentrate on our Deal, hubby dear, because my whole concentration will, only be on you. Just wait and watch, you'll see who wins!" she winks at him.
"I'll be waiting patiently, dear wifey, because I know I am going to get my pound of flesh, today" He returns with a devilish smile.
PRECAP TO PART 34
Sometime later Nikki finds Abhi in a corner, leaning over a tall round table, chatting with someone. The moment the man moved away, Nikki goes near him. Slipping her hand into his arm, that was lying on the table, she leans against him and nuzzles her nose affectionately against his shoulder.
"How are you doing Hubby Dear?" she asks him
"All of a sudden, so much love for your husband?" he taunts, a half amused smile on his lips
"What to do he is so irresistible today!"
"Oh !" Abhi mouths. "You mean otherwise he isn't?" he questions with the raise of an eyebrow. Nikki lowers her eyes unable to meet his eyes. "You enticing siren, you think I can't see what you are upto?" he dares, a teasing smile forming at the corners of his lips
"Wh'What do you mean?"
"I mean I can see through your smart moves Wifey! All this extra lovey-doviness so openly in public, which you normally fight shy to do even when we are alone," His enjoyment of her playfulness is clearly seen in his eyes.
Nikki's cheeks begin to turn crimson red.
"As they say everything is fair in love and war!" she tells him sheepishily.
"Hmmm I know! Only when its tried on one's self, its difficult to buy that
Nikki lets out a coy laugh. Abhi smiles.