"Nikki?" Abhi calls out her name as he looks around the lawn.
An amused Nikki stiffles her giggles. She knew there was no chance of him spotting her as she was in the unlit corner of the lawn. Though she was quiet some distance away, she could sense his agitation at not finding her.
"Nikki, where are you? Are you there?" There was pleading in Abhi's voice.
"Haan Haan, now you know how troubled I am, when you avoid me?" Nikki mutters in amusement, her eyes twinkling with mischief.
"Nikki stop joking and come out !" Abhi calls out in desperation.
The guard comes running to Abhi. "Is everything alright Sir?" he asks.
"Did you see a lady in red?" Abhi asks him. "She is pregnant."
"No Sir, we are on the gates, but we haven't noticed anyone."
Simran and Geeta come out expecting to see the two romancing but are surprised to find Abhi alone.
"Jeeju, what happened ? Where is Di?" a puzzled Simran asks him
"So you girls were playing a prank on me, isn't it?" an annoyed Abhi tells them.
"No, honestly Jeeju, I left Di here myself." Simran tells him, her forehead crinkling in puzzlement.
"Yeah, Yeah, I know you little imps." With a half smile, Abhi shakes his head.
Nikki is disappointed to see Simran and Geeta. She wanted to tease her husband a little more. Seeing the guard has also come, she knew if she did not come out of her hiding, soon there would be chaos all around.
She sees Abhi telling the guard to go back to his duties on the gate and with slight irritation, he walks towards the house. Reluctantly she calls out his name.
However, before her voice could came out, a hand was clamped over her mouth.
Startled and frightened, she digs her nails into the hand of her captor, but, he seemed to be strong and twists her hand pulling it behind her back. He then stomps his foot over her feet, his shoes trampling painfully over her. Her body was trapped completely. She was finding it difficult to breathe as his hands covered mouth tightly and all that she could manage were frantic muffled sounds. Fear, pain and discomfort shoots into her whole body.
She can see Abhi and Simran still talking. Simran was telling him they were not joking and Abhi was not believing her. He continued walking towards the house. She tried her best to call out to him, but her captor was too strong for her.
As she sees Abhi enter the house, Dizziness plunges her into darkness. Her body goes limp into the hands of her captor.
Inside the house, Abhi is looking around for Nikki. Unable to spot her anywhere, he goes to the group and asks them if they knew where Nikki was. Riddhima tells him that Nikki said she was going to the washroom. Abhi is relieved.
A little distance, he sees Simran and her friends talking to each other. Worry and fear were written on their faces. When they spot him, they keep lowering their eyes nervously. He could sense something was wrong. He walks over to them.
"Now what are you girls scheming?" he asks them.
"Jeeju, we looked for Di in all rooms but she doesn't seem to be anywhere."
"Riddhima says she is in the washroom," Abhi informs them. Did you check there?"
"No Jeeju, she isn't there! We checked." Simran tells him tearfully. 'I took Di out and told her you called her there and to wait for you, but she doesn't seem to be anywhere. I am so worried."
An uneasy feeling begins to creep into the pit of Abhi's stomach. It began to dawn on him that the girls could be speaking the truth.
"You girls are speaking the truth?" he asks, still not wanting to believe it could be true.
They nod their heads. Looking at the worry and tension on their faces, Abhi's heart begins to pound violently with fear. He decides not to panic.
"Look, calm down. I know Nikki well. I am sure she is playing a prank on me. Perhaps she is hiding somewhere and watching us. You girls check inside once more and I'll go look outside. Call me on my cell if you find her."
Nikki opens her eyes but is unable to see anything. She thought she had gone blind. There was darkness all around, she couldn't see a thing. She was feeling claustrophobic and nausea was threatening her insides. 'Where was she?' she begins to panic. She knew she was sitting on some bench, its hardness told her so. Her shoulder was touching a wall. She could feel pain in her whole body. She could also sense the restlessness of the baby inside her. Wanting to calm it, she lifts her hand but it wouldn't move. She realized they were bound behind her back. She shifts uncomfortably.
"Shhhhhh, don't do that" the voice, it sounded familiar.
"Who is it?" her voice was very feeble, but there was panic.
Something snaps in front of her and she sees a ray of light flickering from a tiny torch which was barely few inches from her face. Her heart begins to beat rapidly. She can sense danger all over and her worst fear was confounded when she looks straight into those evil gleaming eyes which she always hated.
"Akash?" her eyes widen with shock.
"Yes Baby," his vile smile made her shudder with repulsion.
She remembered seeing Akash in the party, but ignored him. . At one point of time, when she was standing alone, he tried to talk to her, but Nikki told him to get lost and walked away.
"I haven't forgotten your slap gift Nikki," Akash tells her with a diabolic smile. "How could I walk away from you without returning your debt?"
"It was well deserved!" she tells him vehemently. "But looks like you don't learn from your mistakes. What do you think you are doing?" she asks him, lifting her chin up fearlessly. "Leave me at once! Help!" she hollers.
But Akash clamps his hand over her mouth again.
"You better shut up," he tells her. "We are at a place where no one can hear your screams and if you do, I'll harm your baby," He warns her.
Nikki is appalled. Her baby! "Please don't do anything to my baby, please," she pleads.
"Now that's the way you should be talking," Akash shakes his head in triumph. "I only stayed back to repay you and your husband, Nikki" he tells her spitefully "I hired goons to stalk you and it was me who hit your husband on his head yesterday.
Nikki is numbed by his words.
"Akash, if Abhi knows of this, he'll kill you. Have you forgotten what he did to you last time?"
"How could I ever forget it? So I decided, I must return the favour to husband and wife. Shouldn't I?" he bares his teeth with glee. "Now that I have his precious wife and child in my hands, I'll give your husband, something he'll never ever forget for the rest of his life." He chortles maliciously. He kept moving his neck vulture-like and his eyes had deep malevolence in it. There was a kind of beastliness in his whole demeanor.
"What...........What do you mean?" Nikki stutters her heart hammering with fear.
"I have great plans for us Nikki. If you behave properly, we will soon be out from here and then it will be only you and me," Akash tells her, his finger tip caressing her cheek.. Disgusted, Nikki moves her face away.
"You are crazy Akaash!" she spites at him, her eyes telling him how loathsome she found him. "What makes you think Abhi won't find us?"
"Even if he does, I'll make sure he doesn't win this time"
He bends over Nikki who leans backwards repulsed with his closeness. As she did that, she could feel the ligament of her abdomen stretching and grimaces in pain.
"Get off me Akash," she yells at him, "You'll hurt my baby,"
"How do I care?" Akash tells her. "Its not mine!"
A shooting pain in her abdomen, makes her scream "ABHI" stretching her vocal chords to its maximum.
Akaash slaps her from one cheek to another and then cruelly grabbing her hair, he puts one hand on her mouth.
"You Bitch!" he barks.
Pulling out a handkerchief from his pocket, he spins it into a roll and binds it tightly against her mouth.
"Nikki, where the hell are you?" Abhi mutters under his breath, as he agitatedly looks around the lawn for her. His heart was now drumming fiercely. His brains were sending warning signals into his whole system, but he forces himself to stay calm.
"Dammit Nikki why do you play games with me. Please don't' torture me like this. Show up Nikki, Please" He keeps pleading in a continous mumble.
He dials her number but she doesn't seem to answer. Little does he know, that Nikki's phone had fallen to pieces on the ground outside the shed when Akash caught her.
Annoyed, Abhi punches Simran's number.
"Did you find her?" There was desperation in his voice.
"No" Simran tells him. "Check with Riddhima, Armaan and the group," He instructs and disconnects the phone. Simran and her friends were even more distressed. "Hope nothing is wrong with Di," Simran voices her worry. Riddhima who was passing by, overhears her and enquires what was the problem. Simran tells her everything that was happening with Abhi and Nikki.
"Where the hell is she?" disconnecting the phone, Abhi's heart was pounding harder. Rajesh's warning, their attack last night begins to play on his mind. The hair on the nape of his neck and arms begin to stand up, tormented with the thought something could have happened her.
"ABHI," He then hear blood curdling scream sending cold creeps into his whole body. "Nikki?" Panic grips him. Her scream seemed to come from the shed at the other end of the lawn. But, the shed was plunged in darkness. How could anyone be there ? Nevertheless, he sprints towards it.
Trying not to alert any dangerous person, he decides to first have a look through the tiny window.
In the dim light of the shed, he sees a lady being slapped on the face by a man. The man's back was towards him but in the gap of his arm, Abhi could see Nikki's tear stained eyes looking fearfully at the man. Her nose was bleeding. Abhi's whole body rages with fury.
"You Bitch, I told you to shut up, didn't I?" Abhi could not mistake the voice.
Muttering a curse under his breath, he strides to the door of the shed and kicks it open. The lights coming from the lawn flickers into the room making it more visible. Alerted by the opening of the door, Akash immediately drags Nikki up by her hair and holds the knife to her stomach.
Pain and anger makes his whole body tremble as he sees the trickle of blood from Nikki's nose, the gag on her mouth and her terror-stricken eyes. Her whole face reflected the unbearable pain as her hair was being tugged. Her trauma and misery evokes a deep aching in his heart . Yet, when she sees him, he can see her expression change to relief and joy.
"Stay away," Akash warns him thrusting the knife closer to Nikki's abdomen "or you'll lose your wife and child."
Abhi was seething with rage, but, he knew any wrong move from him and Nikki will bear the brunt of it. He cannot let anything happen to her.
"And then what will you do Akash?" he asks him calmly. "How do you plan to escape me? Do you think if anything happens to her, you'll be walking out freely?"
Akash is shaken with the truth of his words. Abhi knew he had him there.
"As long as you keep my wife and child safe, you are safe Akash." Abhi warns him.
Akash knew he was trapped but he wasn't going to give up. "Maybe not your wife Abhimanyu Modi, what if I harm only the child?" he smiles, menacingly pointing the knife closer to Nikki's stomach.
Nikki shakes her head in fright, her protests coming in the form of muffled sounds. Her whole body begins to shiver.
"No na?" Akash tells her fiercely. "So both of you co-operate quietly. I don't want any sound from either of you."
He looks at Abhi. He is surprised to finds his eyes looking at the tiny window behind him. He is puzzled.
"Not from there," Abhi yells.
Akash turns to look at the window. In a couple of strides, Abhi narrows the distance between them and grasps Akash's hand, wrestling with it trying to wield the knife off him. He then bumps his shoulder into Akash's shoulder sending him off balance. Akash loosens his hold on Nikki's hair and the knife falls from his hand. Nikki falls back on to the bench. Abhi fists two punches into Akash's jaw sending him reeling backwards, till he falls to the ground by the window side.
He then goes to Nikki. Apalled by her condition, he pulls her into his arms.
"Are you okay Nikki? Did you get hurt?" he asks worriedly untying the gag on her mouth. Nikki nods her head. She is unable to speak. Tears are flowing down her cheeks. Abhi then fumbles with the ropes till her hands are released.
"Abhi our baby," she cries out in anguish, cradling her abdomen.
"Did something go wrong?" he asks her putting his hand over her stomach. His heart was sinking even more.
"Thank God you came Abhi or we would surely have lost it," she cries bitterly, burying her head into his chest.
Abhi tightens his arms soothingly around her.
"Shhhhhh.............Don't say that. I won't let anything happen to either of you." he comforts her, his eyes were moist.
Nikki was relieved to be in his arms. She didn't expect to be alive after today, to find the comfort of them again. Abhi held her tightly close to him, one hand calming her shivering body, while the other was patting her head. His face was filled with bitter anguish. He hated the fact she was so badly humiliated and hurt. He felt the rush of adrenaline into his system, making his heart pump faster.
"Nikki what happened? Are you alright?" A worried Riddhima enters the shed alongwith Simran and Geeta. Finding the switch at the entrance, she switches on the lonely bulb. She is stunned to see Abhi comforting a tearful Nikki and a man has fallen to the ground by the window. With a groan the man was beginning to stir. Hearing his sounds, a shiver runs through Nikki. She digs herself into Abhi. He comforts her by tightening his grip.
"Riddhima, will you please look after Nikki?" he tells her "Take her inside the house, I'll be there in few minutes." Gently, he leads Nikki out of the shed. Once, they were outside, he hands her over to Riddhima.
"Take care," he tells Nikki tenderly cupping her face and then turns towards the shed.
"Where are you going Abhi?" Nikki asks him holding onto his hand.
"I have some unfinished business to attend to," he glances towards the shed. "Don't worry," he caresses her face lovingly. "I'll be back soon."
Before Nikki could stop him, he strides into the shed and slamming it angrily, locks it from inside.
He was unprepared for Akash who, by now, had recovered and charged at him, just as he locked the door. Abhi reels backwards but manages to keep his feet on the ground. Akash throws a punch at him, but Abhi stops it with a steely grip on his hand.
Nikki, Riddhima and Simran are watching them through the window.
Abhi glares at Akash as if he was going to eat him up.
"How could you hit a woman you Bastard! And that too, inspite of knowing she is pregnant?" he snarls punching him hard on his jaw.
Howling with pain, Akash falls to the ground. He notices the knife lying near him. As Abhi dashes towards him, he picks up the knife and attacks Abhi, hitting him on the arm with it.
Nikki, Riddhima and Simran scream in horror as they see blood oozing out from Abhi's arm.
Abhi grimaces with pain, but quickly turns wrathful eyes at Akash. He kicks Akash's hand and once again, the knife drops to the ground. Consumed with uncontrollable anger , he then knocks a couple of blows into Akash, who is unable to defend himself against the furious man.
"Abhi please stop," Nikki begs "You'll get into trouble, Please stop."
"Abhimanyu please stop," Riddhima also pleads with him followed by Simran who echoes the same pleas to her jeeju.
But Abhi was not listening to their pleas. He kicks and hits at Akash.
In the meantime, Armaan, Rohit, Sonam, Atul,Muskaan and Anjali come charging, having heard from Geeta of what was going on. Riddhima and Nikki ask Armaan to stop Abhi.
"Armaan, please do something," Nikki begs. "Abhi has madness on his head." Taking in Nikki's blood stained face, Armaan is incensed with anger. He peers through the window.
"Finish off that Bastard Abhimanyu," he bellows loudly.
"ARMAAN?" Riddhima and Nikki are stumped by his words.
"How dare he touch Nikki? How dare he!" an infuriated Armaan yells back at the girls. There was tears glistening in his eyes. Looking back into shed, he yells again, "Just rip him off Abhimanyu!"
Through the window, they see Abhi has thrashed Akash badly. His eyes were drooping, blood was splattered all over his face, his hands were slumped on his side, his legs were giving way. If he was standing it was only because Abhi had held him by the collar at the back.
"I cannot bear to see even a scratch on m wife. How could you have hit her so cruelly? How could you touch her? How could you ?" Abhi bellows at Akash. There was savageness in his fury.
Nikki's blood stricken face and terrorized eyes, kept flashing in front of him turning his blood colder and colder. As if a man possessed, he bends down and picks up the knife that had fallen on the bench. Everyone look in horror as he straightens it
"Abhi Stop!" Few manage to yell......... Shock and Fear paralyse the rest into numbness.
Nikki is speechless.
She sees him thrusting the knife towards Akash.
"Abhi, our Baby!" she shouts out loudly. Abhi's hand freezes in the air.
"If not for me Abhi, please stop for the sake of our baby. Please, Abhi think of our baby." She pleads aloud.
Hearing her pleas, Abhi looks towards the window. Seeing the fear in her eyes, he shuts his eyes tightly realizing what he was about to do. Anger had clouded his senses completely. The knife falls to the ground. Slowly he releases his hold on Akash, whose half dead body slumps to the ground.
A nauseous disgust gripping his gut, he kicks Akash and strides towards the door, unlocking it.
With heavy steps, he makes his way out. Rohit and Armaan rush towards him.
"Are you okay?" Armaan asks him. Panting heavily, Abhi nods his head. Armaan and Rohit pat him on the back and nudge him towards Nikki, turning their angry attention to Akash.
As he comes out, Nikki runs towards him.
"Abhi are you okay?" she asks him tearfully looking at the blood on his face and arm.
"I am sorry Nikki, I feared I lost you completely. It scared the life out of me," he tells her pulling her into his arms.
"Me too,Abhi," she tells him, her voice choking. "I didn't think I would be alive today."
"I am so sorry, I didn't mean to scare you, I was too angry. I can't bear anything happening to you Nikki," Abhi tells her wiping away her tears with his thumb. "I just cant live without you," he whispers chokingly.
They embrace each other so tight as if never wanting to let go of the other.
Everyone watch them with tears in their eyes.
"AAH! Nikki , suddenly, yells out holding her abdomen.
"Nikki?" Abhi calls out worriedly
"Abhi I am cramping," she tells him, unable to bear the pain she begins to slump down in his arms.
"Nikki!" Abhi yells out holding firmly on to her.
Riddhima also holds on to Nikki.
"Nikki what's happening?" she asks with concern.
"The cramps..........." she pants. " I can also feel I am bleeding !"
"No!" Abhi and Riddhima mouth as they look horrified at each other . Armaan who just reached them is also shocked, like the rest, on hearing her words.
PRECAP TO PART 36
Nikki can see he is putting up a brave front for her sake. She could sense how worried and panic stricken. he was from inside. The cramps were getting unbearable every few moments. Nikki's heart was sinking. She wished she was not a doctor. The doctor in her knew that there was something gravely wrong. She looks up at the man who always stood by her and did everything to make things right for her.
"Abhi,'' she whispers in between her cramps. "Abhi '.no matter what happens to me, you'll save our baby."
NIKKI!' Abhi yells out in irritation. It was more of a denial.
"Please Abhi," Nikki begs. "Please promise me."
Armaan and Riddhima are choking with tears. They could feel the stress and trauma Abhi was going through.