Tuesday, February 2, 2010

~Covenant of Love~ Part 13

Walking out of Abhimanyu's office, Nikki's heart and mind are in turmoil. *Will you help me? I need someone who loves Tia....she is my first priority.....her grandfather is contesting my adoption on grounds of me being an unfit parent* Abhimanyu's words replay in her mind while she walks to her car to join her friends.

He had asked for her help. A smile appears on Nikki's face. *Will you help me?* help him keep Tia. She had agreed to help him. Without thinking twice, she had agreed to help. She could not bear to say no. Her respect for him had grown immensely on hearing the story he had confided to her and she could not say no. So, she had agreed.

She had agreed to marry him.

Nikki stops dead in her tracks. *I agreed to marry Abhi....oh my god.....oh my god.....what have I done.....calm down Nikki....it's not as if it's a real marriage.....It's only a facade for Tia's sake....what is the difference.....I don't know what to expect and what he expects of me....why did I agree....oh my god.....Armaan is right....I am crazy.....Oh god.....marry Abhi?*

She opens the car door, gets in and hides her face in her hand. "No...No ...No....what did I do.....I can't marry him...I ...I" tears of frustration well up in her eyes and a thought to scream her lungs out crosses her mind. *Will you.....Will you help me Nikki* Abhimanyu's voice plays in her ears. "Fine.....it's only for Tia's sake Nikki.....don't worry....maybe things will work out before you even have to help him and then this step might not even be necessary....calm down....calm down.....everything will be fine" she talks to herself, trying to calm her nerves which were getting the better of her. Suddenly her phone rings and surprises her out of her cogitation.

*Armaan* she sighs and answers the call. "Nikki, where are you? Will that Modi get everything done today.....you are off duty now.....we are waiting here" Armaan expostulates as soon as she utters hello. "Armaan" she replies in a calm tone, contrary to her feelings. "I am on my way....where are you guys?" He answers her and asks her to hurry there as all of them are waiting for her to join.

Nikki enters the restaurant after having talked to herself all through the drive. She spots her boisterous group in a corner, plasters a smile and walks towards them wiping her clammy hands on her shirt. Muskaan spots Nikita first and stands up to wave her to the table and as soon as Nikki reaches near the table she is gathered in a big hug by Muskaan who shouts out a big congrats to her hugs her again. Nikki stiffens in shocks. "C....C...Congrats?" she questions, color draining from her face. Rahul gets up next, then Atul, and then Anjie and all convey their congratulations to her one by one.

Nikki steps back and lifts her hands in a surrendering gestures and asks, "Guys....Guys....why are you all congratulating me?"

"Then who should we congratulate?" Muskaan asks.

"Armaan and Riddhima" Nikki replies back, "They are the ones getting engaged."

"Of course but you will be congratulated too....right" Anjie replies and looks at the rest for confirmation who vigorously nod their heads.

Totally lost and scared about what was being said, Nikki looks beseechingly at Armaan to be explained. "M...me...why?" comes out in almost a whisper from Nikki.

Armaan goes around to Nikki's side and puts his arm around the puzzled girl. "Nikki, you are my best friend and here you are from the groom's side.....that is why you are being congratulated dumbo" he explains lovingly and a sigh of relief escapes her and she smiles at everyone. "Of course....Thank you everyone....I am so happy that my best friend is getting married to my sweetest friend "and moves to hug Riddhima.

After all the congrats are conveyed and done, Nikki takes a seat next to Riddhima and everyone starts talking about the plans and dance and party. "It is this Saturday, right Ridzi.....won't it be too soon...though I am really looking forward to it...will there be a lot of people?" Nikki asks Ridzi as she is unaware of the details.

"Well Papa is pushing it to the next Saturday as Armaan's parents are not able to make it before that so jut in about another ten days" Ridzi explains happily.

"You better help Nikki....don't give me excuses of Modi ok" Armaan butts in and Nikki colors slightly at the mention of the name she had agreed to marry just a few hours ago.

"Of course I'll help....he won't stop me and I will manage around....T ..." and stops herself just in time before letting slip about Tia.

"Manage around whom?" Armaan asks.

"The presentation and project....it is to be given soon and then I will be a little free....I am so excited" Nikki improvises.

"Oye Nikki, you have to come for the dance practice" Muskaan reminds her.

"Yea Nikki, we have to decide on what to wear too" Anjie joins in.

"Anjie, please let me know what color you choose so I can coordinate accordingly" Atul mentions sweetly and Anjie rolls her eyes.

"Oye hoye Atul, matching and all" Muskaan teases him.

"Of course I am going to be the bada damad of the house na....I have to look good too....after all Anjie ki izzat ka sawal hai." He replies fixing the collar of his shirt.

"Bada damad?" Anjie turns on him and he lifts his hands in front of him in a gesture of surrender trying to pacify the girl he loved.

"Arre Anjie, Champ is just trying to look good for his bro's engagement and color coordination is good. Right Rahul?" Armaan steps in to save Atul from Anjie's temper. Rahul gives a polite smile but does not jump in the argument which irritates Armaan who tongue in cheek says, "By the way you were asking me to ask Muskaan what color she would wear so you can match too. Why don't you ask her now?"

Rahul glares up at Armaan who gives him an innocent smile. Muskaan looks at Rahul surprised. "Oye Kaankhajure what is your problem. I will wear whatever I want ....you just wear black." She orders.

"Why....why should I wear black?" Rahul argues back.

"Thik hai toh white pehan lena" she replies throwing her hair back.

"Why white?" Rahul asks again.

"Duffer ka duffer he rahega.....just because both these colors will go with whatever I wear and you might look good if you try hard....though you cannot match me." Muskaan throws attitude. Rahul and Muskaan start arguing and Anjie gets mad on Atul. Riddhima nudges Armaan to stop the fights he helped start but he laughs in return and starts being romantic to Ridzi who blushes and tries to swat him away.

Nikki looks at the happy group and a smile escapes her. Her attention is caught by Armaan- Riddhima's sweet argument and she is happy for her closest friends. *They look so happy together....I can't believe this flirt Armaan is getting married...I never thought he would settle for one girl....he used to like someone's eyes, another's hair....someone's figure.....Ridzi is good for him* she loses herself in her musing.

"Are you thinking about Dr. Modi?" Riddhima whispers coming closer to Nikki who immediately snaps out of her thoughts and shakes her head which makes Riddhima laugh. "I just hope he accepts our invite to come to the engagement...I don't know if he has even thought about forgiving Armaan as yet." Ridzi shares her concern with Nikki who is at a loss to explain.

"I....I don't know Ridzi" Nikki shrugs helplessly. Riddhima looks at Nikki intently and then smiles and changes the subject. "Is everything alright between the two of you now? You spend a lot of time with each other these days" she asks concerned to which Nikki blushes furiously.

"Yea...yea....I mean we work a lot....the New Sanjeevani project keeps us busy." She supplies.

"And?" Ridzi prompts.

"And what Ridzi?" Nikki asks.

"Well you love him and he loves you.....have you moved forward in that direction as yet?" she asks making herself clear. "Everyone here has a pair, even Di is starting to melt towards Atul....you are the only one left and I know who you love so asking you."

"Oh Riddhima, thank you so much" Nikki thanks Ridzi with a hug for her concern who hugs her back.

" I ...actually we will always be there for you Nikki....whenever you need our help....I just hope you and Dr. Modi work out your differences fast." Ridzi tells Nikki who nods unable to decide how to tell her friends that Abhi and she had decided to get married. Armaan interrupts the girls and they decide to order and take turns dancing with each other celebrating the joy entering the lives of two of their friends.....three Nikki corrects herself.

Nikki reaches home after the celebration happy for Armaan and Riddhima but tension of her promise to Abhimanyu grips her the whole night. She is scared and happy in turns. Scared of getting married without the offer of love; about the terms of the relationship; by the unknown but most of all scared of Abhimanyu. Happy to be a part of the small beautiful family, happy to be helping Abhi and just happy at having a chance to rebuild what she had lost. Millions of thoughts flit in her mind and she has a fitful sleep and as a result gets up very early in the morning. She tries to work on the presentation but her restlessness does not let her concentrate. She gives up on working and decides to head out to Sanjeevani even though her duty does not start till 9:30 am.

Unconsciously she drives her car to Abhimanyu's house and when she realizes where she is she sits with her head in her hands. "Well it's his faul.....he just mentioned marriage and has not explained a thing after that.....at least he can explain....yes this is a good idea...I should ask him to explain" she explains to herself and determinedly walks to his door and rings the bell. When no one answers the door, she rings the bell again a little irritated. Another minute passes but the door is still not opened. So, this time she rings the bell insistently. In thirty seconds, the door is thrown open and her gaze clashes with Abhimanyu's peeved one.

"What do you.....Dr. Nikita?" his eyes widen in surprise.

"Good Morning" she wishes him sweetly.

"Morning but what are you doing here so early? It's....It's 6:15am Nikki" he questions her looking at his watch.

"Oh you are a late riser? Well I am here and all this is your fault" she tells him pointing her finger at him.

"Of course it is....please come in and fight" he invites her in a bit sarcastically.

She walks in her heart pounding but head held high and turns to take in his appearance. He is dressed in tracks and a T-shirt, looking ready for a workout. Her eyes roam admiringly over his body and when she catches his eye she hurriedly looks away and starts pacing in his living room. "You...You were up" she asks him accusingly and he nods. "So why did it take you so much time to open the door?" she questions.

"Are you here to ask this?" he questions back ignoring her query and she resumes her pacing irritated at him.

"Nikki" he says softly. She stops abruptly at his soft tone and turns on him. "I couldn't sleep because of you" she throws at him. "What?" he asks taken aback at her accusation.

"I ...I ...don't know" she trails, the wind knocked out of her sails and looks unsurely at him. He comes closer to her and Nikki starts playing with her hands agitated and unable to put her emotions into words.

He unlinks her hands and takes them in his. "Are you scared Nikki?" he asks tenderly.

"Yes" she tries to snatch her hands out of his grasp but he tightens his hold. "Of what Nikki?" he questions her, his tone gentle. When she attempts to snatch her hands back, he lets go and she turns her back to him and mumbles. He goes around her and stands in front of her. When she tries to turn her back on him again, he gently stops her. He lifts her face up with one hand and makes her meet his eyes.

"We can talk about what's bothering you Nikki" he offers.

"We...we can?" she asks mesmerized by the tender expression in his eyes. He nods and takes her by the hand and sits her on a couch and takes a seat next to her. As soon as she sits, she starts fidgeting with her hands in her lap. Abhimanyu notices her discomfort and waits for her to talk. When she doesn't he sighs and offers, "Would you like to tell me why I didn't let you sleep yesterday?" he asks and Nikki blushes at the way he phrased his question.

"Because....you...you "she tries to utter the words which seem to be glued in her mouth. Abhimanyu waits patiently. She looks up at him and blushes more and finally decides to lay what is bothering her in front of him to solve.

"You said marriage....for Tia's sake" she murmurs. A slight smile lights up Abhi's face when he hears the problem bothering the beautiful girl sitting in front of him, her head bowed and eyes downcast.

"Yes I did ask this favor of you...have you changed your mind?" he hides his concern under a teasing tone. Nikki looks up at him alarmed and shakes her head. "No no...I didn't mean that....I mean....I...." she fidgets more and looks away from him. He moves closer and takes her hands in his and tries to bend down to look in her eyes.

"Will you look at me please Nikki" he requests and Nikki lifts her perturbed gaze to meet his tender one.

"Will you marry me Nikki?" he pops the question and her eyes widen in surprise and mouth opens and she exclaims an "Oh". She looks stunned at him, tenderness being the last thing she expected from him. She blinks but is unable to answer.

"You are scaring me now Nikki" Abhi teases. "Please put me out of my misery" he requests. Unable to utter a word Nikki nods a No and then hurriedly changes it to a yes. "Well I still don't get it.....is it a yes or a No Nikki?" Abhimanyu is confused.

"Yes" she nods "but that is the problem" she wails.

"Marriage?" he asks

"No ...you" she replies.

"Marrying me?" he clarifies.

"No ....you...you are the problem" she says almost in tears and at a loss to explain.

"I am the problem....what do you mean Nikki?" he asks absolutely confused.

"I don't know what you want and you get angry" she tells him.

"I just told you Nikki....I want you to marry me to help me keep Tia" he explains patiently."As for angry.....well I promise to work on it....alright" he tries to lay her insecurities to rest.

"Ok....promise.....you will not scream and shout at me" she asks like a child.
"I never do that....but ok ....I promise....happy" he promises her and she nods.
" I will help you......but .....but....what about us?" she asks. Finally Abhimanyu understands what she is talking about. "Oh us" he echoes and Nikki nods glad to have gotten her question understood.

"Well Nikki......I am sorry to have not explained this before. I just need your help till Tia's case is decided. After that it's your decision." He breaks it down for her. Hurt by the truth of his words, Nikki stiffens. "Thank you Abhimanyu....since this is all temporary.....let's just keep this marriage between us then" she says. Hurt by her need to keep their marriage secret he says, "So you want to hide this from your friends and Armaan, right?" he says a little bitterly.

"Well since this is just a facade, what is the point in telling others....once you get what you want I can leave.....so no one needs to know.....otherwise it will be difficult to explain" she tells him nonchalantly.

"Fine by me Dr. Nikita" Abhi shrugs offhandedly, fighting the pain her words had aroused. The look at each other and then both move away.

"Nikki" he says to her and she looks back at him. "I ....I was thinking if you will be fine to get married day after....I just don't want to take any risks." He explains.

"Risk?" she echoes.

"Yeah Tia's grandfather" he reminds her "I just want it to appear like we want to get married to each other not otherwise" he explains.

"Day after? Friday?" she asks and he nods. "Is...will...I mean where how?" she is confused by the new developments.

"Yeah.....I spoke to my lawyer and we can have a court marriage ....unless of course you..." he trails asking her opinion.

"Court....yeah sure....I mean...whatever is fine" her heart breaks.

"Thank you for doing this Nikki.....Tia and I will always be grateful" he says softly.

"Tia....have you told her?" she asks him through the pain in her heart.

"We can do it together.....if it's alright with you" he asks her and she nods her yes.

"Well it is time for her to get up.....do you want to come with me?" he includes her in the precious time he spends with his daughter.

"Ok" and they walk together to Tia's room to wake their daughter and give her the news.

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