Fifteen Minutes later she was all ready, dressed in a sea green tank top and white capris, waiting in the living room, for her husband and their guests to arrive.
She recalled their heated fight and how she told him she was walking out of his life and their marriage. Of couse, she said it in the heat of the moment. She'd die if she really had to do it. It would be impossible to live without him. Moreover, she couldn't do it now! She had a special reason. A tiny blush spread on her cheek. She then recalled how he didn't listen to what she wanted to say to him giving rise to annoyance. She has to make him pay somehow for upsetting her jubilant mood! But then, those cards............ Abhi was right in getting upset about it! And then he'd also overheard Kunal telling her he loved her! But why did Kunal put her name on the card and how did the cards reach her cabin drawer? It all seemed so baffling. She had to speak to Kunal about it.
Just as she was about to dial his number, she heard the front door open. Moments later, she was stunned to see a bruised face Kunal enter, followed by Nidhi her other intern, followed by yet another intern Ayesha and finally her husband stood at the doorway, hands holding the door jamb on either sides. Their eyes met, his eyes dark and sinister.
Nikki looked baffled at the interns. "What's the matter? What's going on?" she asked.
The three had their eyes lowered to the floor. Nikki went nearer to them. She was surprised to see even Kunal wasn't able to meet with her eyes. She noticed the tiny blood clot at the corner of his nose and a bluish bruise on his jaw bone, a courtesy from her jealous and possessive husband.
"Kunal? Nidhi? Ayesha? What's going on guys?" she stared bewildered at them. Getting no response she glanced at her husband who had now sauntered closer to her.
"Sit down Guys!" He told them and they immediately sat down on the three seater. "You'd also want to sit down Nikki," he told her tenderly and gently shoved her into the big leather armchair adjacent to the three seater. He then sat on the arm of her chair and said to her, "Do you really want to know the story behind Kunal writing those cards to you?"
Nikki could only stare confused at him.
"Well Kunal did write those cards," he said, glancing at the three interns, "but, he wrote them for Nidhi!" His eyes were then back on Nikki. " You knew all along he was in love with Nidhi since he kept confiding and taking advice from you!"
"Now the next question is how were the cards addressed to you if he wrote them for Nidhi?" He then dug his hand into his shirt and pulled out the brown envelop. He handed the cards to Nikki. "If you look minutely, the "d" and "h" in Nidhi have been converted to "k's" In Kunal's handwriting "d" has no gap in its circle and with a tiny circle on top of "h" they both became easier to convert into "k". Then every word of the top line was overwritten again, so flaws, if any, got smoothly covered up."
Nikki's hand went to her mouth as she let out a shocked gasp.
"Yes," Abhi nodded his head. "The cards were deliberately tampered! Now the next question is who would do such a thing?" He darted another glance at the interns and back to Nikki.
"The answer to that, its been done by someone who was in love with Kunal but never got reciprocation from him since he's in love with Nidhi!"
Nikki's eyes dilated with shock as she stared at the girl who had her eyes lowered to the floor and fidgeting with the ends of her dupatta.
"Ayesha?" she gasped.
"Dot on Wifey!" Abhi exclaimed proudly. "Ayesha!"
"Why did you do this Ayesha?" Nikki asked, still shocked with the revelation. The girl only kept mum.
"Your senior is asking you a question Ayesha, go ahead and answer it!" Abhi coaxed in a stern voice, bringing fear and tears into the girl's eyes.
"I always wanted to take revenge from Kunal for rejecting my love and also from you for helping Kunal with Nidhi. Since I had a ................." she hesitated briefly before continuing, "soft corner for Kunal, I kept a constant watch on him. I knew Kunal confided in you about Nidhi and was taking your help and advice in expressing his love to her. I also new Dr. Modi knew nothing of it, because I heard Kunal swear you to secrecy till Nidhi reciprocated his love. Everyone was aware Dr. Modi never had any objection on your friendship with Kunal since you knew each other from before, but, I did hear him tell you once to keep a professional relationship with Kunal in the hospital. He wasn't angry then, but, since, I was upset with you for helping Kunal, I decided to make him suspicious of you. It was me who indirectly started spreading rumours about you and Kunal having a relationship which was more than just friendship. Few times this week, I slowly manouevered things in such a way that Dr. Modi overheard the nursing staff gossiping about the two of you. I was hoping your relationship would deteriorate and bring unhappiness for you."
Abhi and Nikki glanced at each other. That explained Abhi's sudden warning to her to stay away from Kunal and their fight on Thursday before he left for Bangalore. She squirmed under his smirking eyes.
"Then yesterday I saw Kunal and Nidhi in the fire escape. Both were confessing their love to each other. Nidhi, then received a call from her house . She told Kunal she had to leave for home and wouldn't be able to make it to the party. Kunal said he would go home with her and then attend the party. In her haste, Nidhi forgot to lock her locker. I then looked through it and found this envelop with these cards. I had already seen Dr. Modi entering Sanjeevani. I didn't want to let the opportunity pass. So I quickly took the kit of coloured pens from Nidhi's locker, knowing she had given a similar set of pens to Kunal which he used in the cards and I changed the two letters. Then, I went to your cabin and put the envelop in your drawer and waited outside till Dr. Modi came, knowing he would pass by on his way to his cabin! I waited till he came upon the envelop and then left immediately."
Nikki looked unbelievingly from Ayesha to Kunal to Nidhi and then up into her husband's face. He darted an assuring look at her and gently pressed her hand.
"Nikki,....... er....Dr. Nikita," Kunal muttered. "I'm going to start calling you Dr. Nikita. I am really very sorry for all the trouble you've had to go through because of me. I feel so bad, I can't even look you in the eye!"
"Me too!" the soft spoken Nidhi seconded. "You were only trying to help us. You definitely didn't deserve this blot on your reputation!"
"It isn't either of your fault." Nikki told them and then stared darkly at Ayesha.
"Yes," Abhi agreed.
"Its good Dr. Modi found out and nipped Ayesha's intention," Kunal said, looking admiringly at Abhi and then glancing at Nikki continued, "or it could have been worse for you!" Nikki and Abhi exchanged meaningful looks.
"Ayesha, I still can't believe you could do all this!" Nikki said sadly to her. "What were you thinking? You would have ruined two relationships and four people in this!"
"I'm sorry Dr. Nikita," she mumbled, her eyes lowered to the floor. "I was too angry and jealous and I thought I succeeded when Kunal got punched by Dr. Modi. I was sure he'd leave you! But, I never imagined, he would look deeper and get into the bottom of the matter! Now I am ashamed of what I did. I am very sorry," she whispered not looking at her.
"Gosh Ayesha, your whole career is at stake now!" Nikki said despairingly.
"Yes, tomorrow we'll decide what to do with her." Abhi replied as he rose to his feet. "Come along Ayesha. Your parents are waiting for you in the car, I'll drop you to them."
Ayesha tearfully moved closer to him, much to Abhi and Nikki's surprise and looked pleadingly into his eyes. "Please Dr. Modi," she said placing her hand tenderly on his arm. "I hope atleast you will understand me. Please give me one chance." Nikki saw the moony look lurking in her eyes, behind her tears and Abhi too, was looking at her with sympathy.
Jealousy sliced into her. Rising abruptly from her chair she said. "Ayesha, we'll settle this tomorrow. For now, I'll drop you to your parents' car." Abhi first looked surprise, then, hid a smile, having understood where her words were coming from.
"Its okay Dr. Nikita," Kunal intervened with a knowing grin, not missing the flash of jealousy in her eyes. "We should be leaving too. We'll drop Ayesha to the car."
Nidhi thanked Nikki for her help and Nikki hugged her in return.
"I'm sorry for that punch, Kunal." Abhi apologized. "You got it wrongly! But honestly, I'd do it again, if anyone says I love you to my wife!" he declared firmly, slipping a possessive arm around his wife's waist. A peeved Nikki quietly dug an elbow into his rib.
"You don't have to keep apologizing Dr. Modi. I fully understand," Kunal smiled. "I would have done the same if I was in your place." Abhi tossed her a smug. "See, I told you so," look and then returning Kunal's grin, shook hands with him. He then dropped his hand from Nikki's waist telling her he'd see the interns to the door. As soon as they were gone, Nikki dashed to their bedroom.
Moments later when Abhi entered the bedroom, he saw an empty suitcase, lying on the bench in front of the bed and found Nikki browsing through her clothes in the open wardrobe.
A tiny smile curved his lips as he ambled towards the wardrobe till he was standing behind her. He could see from the stiffening in her body she was aware of his presence and was getting effected by it.
"What exactly are you doing wifey?" he asked casually from behind.
"Can't you see? I am packing!" she retorted sternly, without turning. She's not going to tell him she's pretending. He had to beg her not to leave!
"Good" he said and she spun around staring at him in
disbelief. He almost laughed aloud, but, afraid she would slug him with the hangar she was holding in her hand, he willed back his laughter. The disbelief in her eyes morphed into hurt and then was masked with a "I don't care" look. "Get Lost!" she tossed at him and turned. Once she hung the hangar on the rod, he blew in relief.
"First lets decide the place we are going to and then pack accordingly." He said coolly. She turned again looking baffled at him. "whether Hot or Cold!" he said, with a raise of a brow, a naughty glint in his eyes. Inhaling an angry breath, Nikki glared at him. Ignoring her glare, he lazily stretched his hands on either side. "Besides, I am feeling too lazy to pack! So promise you'll pack for me too, sweet wifey!"
"Pack?" Oye hello!" Nikki waved her hand in front of his face. "If you forgot? Its me that's leaving! Why should I pack for you?"
"Because Sweetheart, where you go, I go with you!" He said, grinning mischievously. "How can you forget our marriage vows Nikki! Shame on you!" he blinked his eyes, feigning shock.
Nikki was stunned with his accusation! She saw him lift his hand and knew he was about to touch her. "Don't touch me!" she hollered, waving her finger angrily at him "Keep your hands to yourself!"
"Okay! Okay!" he raised both his hands in surrender knowing he was dealing with his adorable spitfire here. He placed his hands on the doors, on either side of the wardrobe, but, his eyes couldn't help ooze with mischief.
"Good, don't move your hands from there!" she told him hotly. "Lets make it a rule to talk properly for once, without you pawing at me, all the time!"
He chuckled. "I don't remember you objecting to it anytime! As far as I know, you relish it!
"Yoouu!" she seethed, waving her finger accusingly in front of his face, her eyes having narrowed angrily.
"Okay!" He raised his right hand in surrender again, though his eyes still carried the wicked gleam.
So what if he was right! Does it mean he should be vocal about it! And did he have to wear that damn red Tshirt which made him look even more sexier and hotter ! Besides, he was standing too close for her comfort! The heat of his body burning into her. Now that's three more reasons to add to the hate list! But damn! Why were her own ammunitions working against her and making her weak under his magnetic presence! She clenched her hands by her side, steeling herself from giving into the traitorous urge of throwing herself at him. Hate Nikki! Trying hating that man! Make him pay for every tear you shed the whole of last night!
"Do you even know anything good in a marriage?" she thundered "You're only good at jealousy and possessiveness, both bad, for a marriage.
"I am also extremely good in one aspect of marriage," he replied, his eyes glittering wickedly. "and going by your response everytime, I can safely say I ace it!"
In went another addition to the hate list! But he's right!" another voice reminded her. 'Shut up!" she smothered it down.
"Will you shut up?" she chided him aloud, gritting her teeth, her cheeks searing hot. "What I meant, I don't want to live with a husband who's ready to punch every guy who's friendly to me!"
"I had reasons for it," he tossed. "firstly, the romantic cards were so blatantly addressed to my wife and secondly I heard with my own ears, Kunal saying he loved you and you telling him you were happy he had courage to say it. I was hurt, jealous and angry. I couldn't think properly. And see even Kunal said he'd do the same thing"
Nikki puckered her nose indicating she'd rather ignore the last line even if it was the truth, which she herself had acknowledged before the revelation.
'God! She's looking so gorgeous!' he gaped longingly at her. 'Her face glowing fresh and soft and her lips'.............oh my god! oooooooooooooh they were so kissable! Damn what torture! He's dying to grab at her, but, she's having him crucified with his hands clamped on either side. Please Nikki, please stop torturing me! Let me kiss you! Just one........only one.........okay a quick one."
"For the past one month, he wasn't able to tell Nidhi he loved her," Nikki was saying. "and I knew right through she was waiting for him to say it."
'Okay, atleast let me touch your face!' he was mentally pleading, then quickly shirked away his drooling to pay attention to what she was saying.
"That's why I was happy he finally had the courage to say it and he, too, was on cloud nine since Nidhi acknowledged his love! Him telling me he loved me was his way of saying he was grateful for my help!"
"I gathered that now!" he shook his head sheepishly. Good! Finally she scored ! She tossed him a smug, triumphant look.
"Poor Guy got punched for nothing!" she harped, wanting to send the dig deeper. "When I am all yours Abhi, how can you get so jealous?"
"I am all yours too, Nikki! Yet, given an opportunity you would have scratched Ayesha's eyes today just for looking tenderly at me.!" Ouch he scored!
"Imagine, if you were in my place and got to read cards containing love declaration for me and caught me happily embracing that same person who verbally expresses the same love words! Rational or irrational, jealousy and anger are bound to escalate!"
Nikki flustered with discomfort. Damn! He scored again! But she's still not going to admit he was right ! Where the bloody hell are my ammunitions! I need to attack!
"You just don't care about me," she pouted, "The whole of last night, you didn't bother to make up with me."
"I was also miserable the whole night, didn't sleep a wink!" he shook his head sadly. Ah! Atleast they were at par on something ! "and I know you'd have been miserable too! But I wanted to give you some time to calm down! You'll agree, I'm not entirely at fault here, but, I'm really sorry for upsetting you! Please forgive me for that! I was dying to come to you, but, I also knew, the state of mind you were in, you just weren't going to listen to anything I said!" Awww! So sweet! Now she wanted to take him in her arms!
"Ah! Yes! I could have always forced my way through and used that one aspect of our marriage which I know never fails us" he winked and grinned. She blushed deep red. "Such a bloody................ What the hell was she thinking, feeling sorry for him!" Annoyed, she punched him softly on the chest. Couldn't she have used some more force! Why worry he'd hurt?"
"But that's not what I wanted to do, since the issue was too sensitive!" Abhi continued. "I wanted the puzzle to be solved as soon as possible! I was absolutely sure you weren't having an affair with Kunal. But then, it did hurt me that you were still all for Kunal when you knew all along he loved you. After you left, claiming you had no proof to prove your innocence, I realized you had no idea about the cards till I showed them to you." So he did believe in her words!
"I then sat down and scrutinized each card, but, I couldn't find answers in them. The entire night, I spent opening, scanning, closing the cards every now and then and then mentally going through the staff, the interns, everyone and the happenings at the hospital. It was literally at dawn, I noticed the slight darker smudge on the letters "k". I then realized it was addressed to someone else and after rummaging my brains for a long time, I suspected it to be Nidhi's name, even though I wasn't sure about it. " He then paused and stared hard at her.
"I really wished you'd given me some hint about Kunal and Nidhi, Nikki! Atleast an indication they had a soft corner for each other, even if you didn't want to disclose they were in love!" Nikki felt a wrenching in her chest at the hurt in his eyes. "If I'd known the name before, I would have figured things out much earlier and this wouldn't have gone this far!" She lowered her eyes, unable to meet his gaze. "Neither do you listen when I keep telling you to keep relationships professional in the hospital!"
"Anyways, thanks to you and the detective work I did last night, I discovered I have an alternate career option!" he grinned. Nikki looked up at him. She couldn't help the tiny grin that erupted on her face.
"Then the first thing in the morning, I called up Kunal and went to his house. I showed him the cards and he was shocked. Said he wrote it for Nidhi, but, didn't know how your name came to be on it. So my doubts got confirmed and we, then, went to Nidhi's place. She confirmed the cards were from Kunal and she left them in her locker. Then, I asked them how many interns were still in the hospital when they were leaving. Nidhi said only Ayesha was there in the locker room, rest everyone left. Kunal then told me of Ayesha's interest in him and how he told her he was interested in Nidhi. I also recollected it was because of Ayesha, I entered your cabin and the moment I found the envelop, she made an excuse and left. And then, I pieced them all together and along with, Kunal and Nidhi, went to Ayesha's place and in front of her parents confronted her. First she refused to say anything, then after I lost my cool, she blurted out the whole thing."
Tears of joy simmered in her eyes. He did it all for her. She won't admit to him, but she could admit to herself she would also have been shattered if she was faced with something similar when it came to Abhi. She wouldn't be able to handle anyone paying extra attention or love to him or he doing likewise to some other woman. She actually wanted to scratch Ayesha's hand for touching him and her eyes for looking so moonily at him. She'd seen some of the female staff at the hospital swoon at him, but, getting close to him? No Way! He belonged only to her! While she cried and drew out her hate list for him, he spent all that time getting to the bottom of the issue! Did he still deserve to be hated?"
"Let's put all that happened behind us Nikki and move ahead," she heard him say shaking her out of her musings. "And now, can I please hold you?" he implored with a heart stopping smile.
She conceded he didn't warranty punishment but still hated to let him go free. She pouted at him and deliberately turned, leaving him gaping at her open mouthed.
"Are you still packing?" he asked calmly, his tone indicating he understood she was faking.
"Before you do, tell me about that truth which you still haven't told me."
Nikki was dying to laugh. "Ah! Now she got the right weapon to tease him a little more!" She was glad she had her back to him and he didn't see the smile on her face. Quickly, she composed herself and keeping a straight face turned to face him.
"What will you do if I walk away from you Abhi?" she asked seriously. "Na Na, let your hands stay where they are!" she rushed seeing him moving his hands towards her. With dejection and annoyance on his face, he placed his hands, back on the doors.
"You can only dream of it Nikki, I am not going to let you go anywhere away from me!" he said with vehemence, his brown eyes having turned darker. " Even if I have to physically tie you up, caveman style, I'll do it and keep you bound to me!"
"I'll stay " she replied softly, stunning him with the sudden change in her attitude. "and I'll tell you the truth!" She saw his face brightening "but, only on one condition." His brows furrowed warily. "Instead of force, I want you to use mush this time to get me to stay with you"
His eyes widened with disbelief as he stared at her for a long moment. Nikki was struggling to hide her smile. Tearing his gaze away, he looked to the floor. After a deep thought, he glanced back at her and then with a tiny smile on his lips, shook his head and went down on one knee. Taking her hand in both his hands, he planted a soft kiss on it, her stomach flip flopping in excitement.
"Nikki, I swear, I can't live without you and will never be able to live without you," his voice was genuinely emotional as he looked her in the eye. "I love you like crazy. So please don't go away from me!" he pleaded.
Her heart dancing with joy, she smiled at him and saw him smile too. One last attempt, she thought, one last attempt to tease him.
Tongue in cheek , she shook her head, pretending she was still unconvinced. He was taken aback.. He stared at her and shook his head like wise, accompanying it with a "not yet convinced?" questioning look which Nikki confirmed with a likewise shaking of her head. He sighed deeply. Then suddenly his whole stance changed. Mischief began to lurk in those sexy brown eyes.
"Please Nikki, Please don't go, Please, Please, " he started muttering, "that's if I let you go," he interjected in a lower tone, but, Nikki had heard it clearly.
"What did you say?" she asked him.
"I'm saying, please don't go Nikki, please, please, please." She could see he was trying his best to hide his grin.
"Such a Devil!" she muttered to herself, laughter bubbling inside her at his pertness. She knew he was confident she'd never be able to leave him. How she hated him for it! But how did it matter! She made the arrogant brute go down on his knee, something which no one could ever get him to do!
With a smug smile, she splayed a hand over her abdomen and flipping a saccharine sweet smile, said, "Hey my little one! How I wish you could see your father grovelling on his knees, just to know the truth about you and keep your mother forever by his side!"
Abhi looked at her as if someone socked him hard on the face! The colour was fast draining from his face, his eyes popped so wide as if they'd soon fall out of their sockets! Nikki couldn't stop the giggles anymore. For the longest moment, he knelt transfixed, unable to come out of his frozen stupor. Nikki chuckled
"Serves you Right darling husband!" she said mentally. "What makes you think, only you'll have the last say in everything!"
With a triumphant giggle, she held his head, on both sides, with tender hands and pulled it closer to her belly.
"Oh my God! A Baby?" he finally burst out in excitement. "We're pregnant!"
"Yes, we are!" Nikki confirmed with a smile, his head still in her hands.
He tossed an exhilarated look at her "When did you know of it?"
"Been suspecting it for the past few days but, had it confirmed yesterday morning! And then I tried telling you last night, but, you didn't let me complete! You pounced on me about Kunal instead!" she sulked.
"Gosh! That somebody else is.................?" She nodded her confirmation "Damn! Damn! what a fool I am!" he fisted his forehead. "I was so afraid you'd going to say that Kunal has also become important to you! I didn't want to hear it ! Never imagined about the baby! Its true isn't it! You aren't teasing me further Are you?"
"Yes, my dear husband," she rocked his head from side to side and then up and down. "We're going to have a baby soon! And for the misery you put me through the whole of last night, you'll have to take special care of both of us, for the whole of the nine months!"
"That goes without saying Sweetheart! I'm going to be a slave to the two of you!"
"We'll see!" she laughed heartily. He saw joy and happiness had sparkled her eyes and her face was glowing, making his chest swell with pride that she was only his!
"God, I love you..........I love you like crazy......... and this little one here" he whispered and went on a rampage of ecstatic kisses all over her abdomen. An overwhelmed Nikki ran fingers of both hands into his hair, her eyes glittering with tears of delight. "I love you too!" she choked.
He then stood up abruptly and pulled her hard into him.
"Abhi, what are you doing? You forgot the rule of not touching me!" she chided with a teasing smile.
"I don't go by rules when it comes to you," he growled "You keep teasing me looking hot and sexy and then expect I shouldn't touch you? Its impossible for me to survive! Gosh! This was the worst punishment I've ever had. Now, I need this badly!" He clamped his lips on hers.
Nikki's giggle got smothered in his kiss. She ran out of all protests and fights. Thankfully, she had the presence of mind to add that No guarantee disclaimer to her hate list. Anyway, she didn't needed it any more! She had him! His love, his trust, his baby! Rapturously she responded to his delightful kisses.
He broke the kiss to say "Congratulations by the way," and before a breathless Nikki could even reply, he was back to kissing her all over her face, her jaw, her neck. And just when she was delighting in his passionate onslaught, he pulled back.
Now what? She wondered.
"Huh? Oh ok.. Good idea!" she nodded "What should we do?" Huh? What's going on? Why was he moving away from her" disappointment snagged.
"Should we go out for lunch?" she asked looking puzzled as he dashed to the windows and pulled down the blinds, plunging the room in darkness.
"No!" he replied tersely.
"No!" he replied again, shutting the bedroom door and striding towards her.
"Abhi what exactly are you doing ?" she finally asked wanting to put her confused mind at rest.
"Celebrating!" he said with a wide boyish grin.
"Celebrating?" her brows narrowed closer together. " Here? How and with what?"
"Here! With what we both thoroughly enjoy !" he winked and soon had her lifted in his arms.
Realisation dawned on her, making her flush with bewildered shyness.
"You mean.............?" she asked as he laid her on the bed
"Yes," he grinned, following her down on the bed and kissing her lips. "Do you have any objections?" he murmured against her mouth.
'Objections? Now what could those be?" wondered a dazed Nikki. She vaguely remembering making a list sometime back, but, she couldn't recall even one item on it! Her brains were too fogged by his kisses and her body was already in its surrender mode. And they loved each other! Why bother about anything else!'
"Hmmm? Any objections wifey?" She shook her head in the negative.
"Good! Now, lets spend the whole day celebrating!" he said, his voice hoarse with passion. "Cheers!" he toasted drinking the sweet nectar from her lips.
"Cheers!" an ecstatic Nikki replied, but it was muffled and lost somewhere in the intense fiery kisses he was splaying all over her.