Sitting on the bed Nikki is trying to make sense of the day's events.
She had gotten married today and everything had changed but nothing had changed. She was still the same Nikki, he was still the same Abhi; she still loved him with all her heart but what he felt for her she still didn't know. He had been kind and understanding the past few days. Had even put a lid on his temper she remembered smilingly but she did not know when what would change. It was still the same unsure relationship.
The Ring.....it was beautiful....when he had opened the box she had gasped in disbelief and her heart had swelled with love as she knew that he had chosen it for her. She had loved it and he had put it on her finger gently taking her hand but she did not know what to make of it. There was no one present so he had definitely not made any pretence. She still did not understand what to make of his caring gesture.
The kiss.....he had laughed at her when Tia had innocently landed her in a spot. Laughed......the gall of that man. She had taken the bait she sighed and he had taken advantage. She had meant to give him a peck on his cheek but at the last moment he had turned his face. She colored at the thought of that fleeting kiss but like always she had felt his touch in each and every fiber of her being. She tried to divert her mind from that but it kept repeating in front of her eyes. "Arrrgggghhhh" she growled frustrated and tried to get rid of the vision.
The thanks......she had just wanted to say thanks to him for his understanding. For leading her and guiding her every step of the way till this day. If he had not held her hand and told her that she was free to go - in his office, she was sure she would have run. He had told her it was difficult for him too and she understood how important it was. TIA. His life, his daughter, the reason for their marriage. She had meant to thank him for being understanding but he had gently pulled her in his arms and kissed her again. "This is how you thank your bride" he had said. His bride, his wife. It sounded like music to her ears but it was all a dream. The only real thing was TIA. She couldn't have him messing with her brain. He needed to stay away from her and behave like the Abhimanyu she knew. This sudden sweet, romantic and kind Abhimanyu scared her. Scared her as she did not know how long she would be able to hide her love from him if he continued his loving assaults on her senses. He was already too close to her heart. She needed to maintain a distance if she wanted to survive when this facade ended. The mere thought of the end brought tear to her eyes.
Nikki stood up and blinked the haze of tears from her beautiful black eyes and decided to talk to her husband about the do's and don'ts of their relationship. Actually just the don'ts.
In the living room Abhimanyu was lounging on the couch, his legs outstretched on the coffee table in front of him with a laptop on his lap. The screen had the presentation open but his mind was miles away from work. He was married and that too to Nikki he mused. After the way she had rejected him during Dr. Keerti's wedding he had never thought that this day would come. The crazy girl had been after his life from the day he had entered Sanjeevani. First with all her friends and after that alone, trying to get herself kicked out. He had never understood why she irked him so much till the day he had realized that he had fallen head over heels in love with her. After the pool incident he had decided to get over his love fallacy but the crazy girl had stuck by his side like super glue, persuading, pestering and caring for him. Then Tia had come to stay with him. A smile curved his lips at the thought of his beautiful and naughty daughter.
These two Nikki and Tia were no different from each other. He loved both of them like crazy. Abhimanyu sat up with a start. Loved Nikki. He raised his hand to his temple gently massaging it. Why did he have to do that again he thought. She obviously didn't so why did he have to. "How are you going to get out of this one Abhimanyu? How more loudly do you want her answer? As if a push in the pool and her subsequent silence were not clear enough?" His brain questioned his heart.
He let put his breath in a whoosh and went back to lounging closing his eyes and resting his head on the couch. Nikki was confusing him. She hurt him but then refused to leave his side. What was he supposed to make of that? She had even read his files to find out about Tia and had screamed bloody murder at him at having found out that he had a daughter. On the other hand she loved Tia like her own and had married him to help him keep her. She behaved professionally but when he came close she never backed down. She responded to him and for the life of him he could not figure out why a slight touch of hers sent frissons down the length of his body. If he loved his sanity he needed to stay away from his wife.
He smiled a bit at the word. Wife. She was his wife now. It made him happy to think about her like that. It had happened so fast. He had needed to marry someone to have a fighting chance to keep Tia and she had agreed. She was scared to death but had married him. He felt bad that they had to have a court marriage. He wanted to celebrate it but she didn't want to tell anyone and he didn't want to push her. What had started for Tia's sake had very soon turned real for him. He frowned thinking about Nikki's reaction about him telling the minister about their marriage. She was doing this for Tia's sake but he desperately wanted for her to change her mind and include him. This was real for him. She was the only woman he was going to love and marry. He wanted this marriage to last. FOREVER. He would do anything to prove to her that he was crazy about her. Give himself another chance and see if she would have him. He was not going to let go but he was not going to force her either.
How he was going to survive if she decided to leave he had no idea. All he knew was he would try his best to make sure she didn't want to leave. He felt as if someone was watching him but when he hears a soft recital of his name from the woman he loves he opened his eyes to look at her.
Nikki had come into the living room meaning to talk to Abhimanyu but had stopped short at seeing him lounging with his eyes closed. At first she had thought he was asleep. But when a smile had curved his mouth she realized that he was awake. She had taken that opportunity to stare at him. Etch his features in her memory. He looked relaxed and a smile suited him. She wished she could do this her whole life but suddenly stopped her wayward heart from rushing ahead. Hesitantly she called his name. "Abhi" and his eyes flew open and he turned towards her with the remnants of a smile.
He looked at the hesitant girl before her and rolled his eyes. Suddenly he saw anger cloud her eyes and she turned to leave. "Nikki" he called her and she froze. "Say what you came to say" he tells her.
She turns towards him miffed. "You rolled your eyes" she accuses him. A soft laugh escapes him.
"I did" he nods agreeing "but not because I don't want to hear what you want to say......but coz I want you to stop wearing that scared expression on your face when you talk to me." He explains.
"I.....I am not scared" she braves up.
"Of course you are not but you look at me as if I am going to attack you any minute" he tells her and Nikki looks at him startled. "That is what it looks to me" he shrugs. Nikki starts playing with her hands uncomfortable at the fact that he was so near to the truth. Catching her fidgeting, he points that out to her, "Here you go again." Nikki stops immediately. She takes a deep breath. "Fine.....no touching" she blurts out.
"Excuse me" he asks confused lifting his hand in front of him "I am not touching you."
"I know you are not" she say irritated "but you did".
"So" he questions trying to figure out where she was going with this.
"I....look Abhi there is something I wanted to make clear." She starts.
"Obviously.....I am listening" he waves his hand motioning her to proceed.
"So, you have decided not to make it easy for me" she snaps.
"Nikki I have no idea what you are getting at but now I am curious" he replies incredulous.
"Fine....don't kiss me." She tells him.
"I didn't" he replies understanding dawning in his eyes. "You did" he points out.
"What? M....M ....Me?" she sputters taken back by his calm rebuttal.
"Yeah you......you even pulled me by my collar.....Did I complain? Now you are blaming me." He replies without batting his eyelashes.
She colors at this but continues, "Well why did you have to ...to....turn your face?" she asks him looking everywhere but at him.
"Well if you were going to kiss me I did not want you to feel that I was unhappy about it" he replies tongue in cheek.
At his answer Nikki's eyes snap to his face and she sees him looking serious but when she looks in his eyes she sees him laughing at her. Irritated at his playfulness when she was so serious she grabs the nearest cushion and throws it at him.
"Hey.....no hitting" he bursts out laughing.
"What is so funny?" Nikki questions her hands on her waist and eyes steely.
"Nothing" he controls his laughing.
"It is impossible to talk to you .....you know.....impossible" she gets angry.
"Ok ....Ok .....fine say what you want to" he gets serious.
"Well .....I.....we need some boundaries Abhi" she explains to which he nods his head. "We both know that all this is for Tia.....but I......well eventually this is going to end......so we should maintain a distance" she proposes.
Sobered by the reality in her words, Abhimanyu's heart breaks but he asks her, "What do you want Nikki?"
"That....we just ....Stay away from each other" she tells him.
"We are away.....how much farther" his tone reflects his pain.
"Just....look Abhi can we just be.....friends" she dares to ask praying hard for him not to launch into one of his moods.
He bows his head in thought and when he looks up at her, he extends his hand for a shake, "Friends" and she shakes on it both feeling the zing in their arm at each other's touch and snatch it away in a second. She looks beyond him to his laptop and asks him what he is working on and he tells her that he was working on the presentation for tomorrow and she jumps to join in. They work together on the presentation and when Tia wakes up they play with her and get dinner and sleep early bringing an end to their wedding day where they took the first step of their marriage.......that of becoming FRIENDS.