Tuesday, February 2, 2010

~Covenant of Love~ Part 17

The shrill ring of Nikki's cell phone brings both of them back to the real world. Reluctantly Abhi lets Nikki out of his arms. As she steps out of the haven of his arms, the cold reality of their situation hits her in the face.

Abhimanyu's eyes search her beautiful face for any sign of regret but all he sees standing in front of him is the woman he loves with a slight glow of happiness on her face.

"Saved by the bell" thinks Nikki. She had poured her feelings in the kiss and willed him to understand her. She looks up into his dark discerning gaze a little shyly.

"Nikki" he speaks so softly that his voice comes out husky and she blinks at this love filled tone.

"Did......Did I do something wrong?" he asks lightly touching his wife's cheek with his knuckles "Coz I don't feel I did" he tells her plainly how much the kiss meant to him. Nikki nods a yes and then a hurried no unable to look away from him. "What?" he asks, his other hand snaking around her waist and bringing her back into his arms. "No" she manages to reply lost in his touch. The phone shrills again and Nikki looks at it as if looking at an alien. A smile curves Abhimanyu's mouth and he bends near her ear and whispers, "Pick it up" and steps away. Bereft of his hug Nikki comes back to her senses and picks up the call.

"Nikki where are you?" cries Muskaan not bothering about the niceties.

"What happened" Nikki manages, reality rushing back and the magic Abhi had weaved around her breaking.

"Nothing happened.....are you back at your place?" Muskaan enquires.

"No" Nikki replies

"Then?" she continues her interrogation to which Nikki rolls her eyes.

"I had a meeting for the New Sanjeevani project and I just finished......happy" Nikki supplies.

"Oh" says Muskaan.

"What?" Nikki asks unable to understand the simple syllable.

"Well then he must be with you?" Muskaan explains.

"Who?" Nikki asks and then her meaning dawns on her and slight anger takes over."Yes he is" she replies firmly.

"Well......if you are done can I talk?" Muskaan asks "Or will Dr. Modi jump at your throat?" she asks.

"Well I am in a hurry but tell me why you called" Nikki comes to the point, not wanting to get into the specifics in front of Abhi.

"Well tomorrow evening we are practicing for Armaan- Ridzi's engagement party......just wanted to ask you what time will you make it?" she finally tells her why she called.

"Well......I am working tomorrow but get off in the afternoon so I can stop by after that" Nikki tells her and they decide to meet at Riddhima's house ending the call and she turns to Abhi, who all this time has been looking intently at the ground his mind far off.

"Abhi" she calls him and he looks up. "We have to pick Tia" she says and he nods his head and they drive to Sanjeevani a comfortable silence between them. At the gate of the hospital, Nikki tells Abhi that she will get Tia and he can wait at the entrance and they can leave immediately avoiding the hassle of parking and he nods his assent.

Nikki goes to the daycare and Tia happily jumps into her arms bestowing a kiss on her. Nikki holds her at arm's length and looks at the happy child. "Why are you so happy Tiu?" she asks.

"I am getting a brother" replies Tia and the wind is knocked out of Nikki.

"What?" she almost screams, remembering to control her voice in the nick of time.

"Akshay said he saw his parents kiss and now he is going to have a little brother" a wide- eyed Tia tells Nikki, who tries hard to control her laughter.

"So, if you kiss Daddy, I can also get a brother" she tells a stunned Nikki satisfied by her logic. Nikki doesn't understand how to refute the 4 year old's logic and simply tells her to gather her things as her Daddy is waiting for her. Tia excitedly does so and both the Modi women walk hand in hand towards the one man who was the center of their universe.

On the way Dr. Keerti bumps into them and says a sweet hello to Tia who shyly answers back. She asks Nikki if she has a few minutes to spare as there were a few questions regarding a patient Nikki was treating. Nikki tells her yes and bends towards Tia to tell her to wait beside her for a few minutes and she nods.

"This little girl is Dr. Modi's?" Dr. Keerti asks to which Nikki nods a yes avoiding her probing gaze and Dr. Kerrti takes the hint and gets back to the business at hand.

Tia doesn't understand what to do so she starts getting a little fidgety but tries to wait for Nikki. Armaan is passing by the reception when he sees Dr. Keerti and remembers a question he had to ask her and heads towards her direction. He stops a few feet away shocked at seeing a beautiful little girl playing near Nikki's legs. For a second he thinks she must belong to Dr. Keerti but then looks a little closely and figures out that it's not Navneeta.

Curious by the little child he goes a little closer and tries to catch her attention by waving a little hello to the girl who is now looking in his direction. Tia looks at Armaan and waves a little shyly, inching closer to Nikki. Armaan makes a funny face for her and she starts laughing, the ice broken. He goes a little closer and sits on his haunches. He takes out a handkerchief from his pocket and twists it to make a rat out of it and starts playing with it, making it jump on his arm. Curious and amazed by the game Tia slowly goes near him.

"Stretch your hand" Armaan orders and she stretches her small arm for him. He makes the mouse jump from his arm on to hers and gleeful laughter escapes Tia. He plays the game for a few minutes with her and then extends his hand for a shake.

"I am Dr. Armaan" he introduces himself, "who are you gorgeous?" he asks Tia pinching her cheek playfully.

"Oh you are a doctor like my Daddy?" Tia questions him and he nods.

"Who is your Daddy?" he asks curiosity taking over as her question made it pretty apparent that one of her parent worked at Sanjeevani but he is still not able to fathom who.

"Abinamyu Modi" Tia replies smiling and the smile evaporates from Armaaan's face, an "Oh" escaping him. He recovers fast and smiles a little forcedly at the small girl who is inching back towards Nikki.

"Nikki.....but you are with Nikki.....right?" he asks her and Tia nods at him smiling at the mention of another of her favorite people.

"How do you know Nikki?" he asks a little softly.

Done with work, Nikki bids bye to Dr. Keerti and looks down to Tia and tells her that she is ready to go when she spots her a little away from her talking to Armaan. "Armaan"her mind screams at her and races a mile a minute thinking about what the innocent girl might have let slip in her chatter. She races to her side and hears Armaan asking her about how Tia knew Nikki.

"I am Tia's best friend.....right sweetie?" Nikki answers for the tot and looks down smiling at her. Tia nods enthusiastically and continues for Nikki, "and she is my new...." the color starts draining from Nikki's face when she realizes that Tia might divulge that she was married to Abhimanyu.

"Tia .....your Daddy is waiting for you.....let's go....we are getting late" she interrupts the girl and bids bye to Armaan who is shocked and is taking in the exchange between his friend and Tia Modi open-mouthed. When Nikki tries to pass, Armaan catches her wrist and hisses softly, "Daughter?" not believing that his friend had never mentioned that facet of their boss ever.

"Yes" she replies trying to tug her arm free, scowling a bit.

"Since when do you look after his daughter" he questions her meaningfully trying to hit Nikki for some answers.

"Nikki.....lets go.....Daddy is waiting.....lets go home" Tia tugs at her free arm and Armaan raises his eyebrow.

"Well.....Dr. Modi is just dropping me home.....so I need to go....and I am just picking up his daughter for him so he doesn't have to park and come out all the way" she answers him telling the truth but not the whole truth. Armaan frees her hand and lets her go. Nikki walks out with Tia but turns to look back and finds Armaan still rooted to the spot, looking at them leaving. Their eyes meet and a frown comes on his face and Nikki's heart skips a beat.

Walking out she questions Tia about what Armaan asked her but before she can complete the question, Tia spots Abhimanyu and shrieks in happiness and runs into his outstretched arms. He looks at Nikki and asks her, "What took you so long?"

"Dr. Keerti......she stopped me on the way to ask some questions" she replies a bit preoccupied. Abhimanyu notices that but nods his head and concentrates on the imp in his arm who is turning his face to hers and rambling on regarding her day. Tia talking nineteen to a dozen the family reaches home and gets ready to prepare for dinner. A preoccupied Nikki walks into the kitchen and starts to warm up the dinner which has been prepared by the help.

Abhimanyu tries to get Tia busy in her cartoons but his daughter clings to him till dinnertime. When Nikki calls Tia for dinner, she insists that Daddy feed her and Abhimanyu decides to pamper her and starts feeding her. After two bites Tia simply stretches her arms urging Abhi to come closer so she can hug him. Nikki smiles at the hyper girl and Abhimanyu goes into the hug. "What is it Tia?" he questions her sudden hug.

Tia smiles at him and nonchalantly tells him, "I want a brother" and Abhimanyu's eyes widen in shock.

"You.....what?" he chokes.

"Akshay is going to have a brother.....I want one too" she demands.

"Who is this Akshay and how do you think......what do you mean" his words jump over each other and he looks at Nikki, who in turn gets up to go.

"Nikki" he implores and when she looks at him he lifts pleading eyes at her to help him out of the situation.

"Akshay is my friend.....and he saw his mommy Daddy kissing and now he is going to have a brother......Daddy please kiss Nikki so I can have a brother." Tia replies unaware of the situation she is creating between her parents.

"Kiss Nikki" he bites out the words and Nikki stops dead in her tracks whereas Tia nods excitedly.

"Please Daddy.....please.....please can I have a brother" she begs her father. Open-mouthed Abhi stares at his daughter not understanding how to get out of this one. "Eat Tia" he decides to drop the subject.

"After that will I get a brother?" Tia negotiates.

Both her parents avoid looking at each other and Tia looks from one to another. "Please Nikki tell Daddy.....please .....please" Tia implores to Nikki whose color deepens with every please.

"Well Tia....it all depends on Nikki" Abhimanyu answers softly a hint of laughter in his voice but his eyes searching Nikki's. Her head snaps up and she looks furiously at him.

"Fine" he mouths and turns to Tia. "Tiu....Akshay is having a brother is that why you want a brother?" he asks her seriously and she nods a yes. He lovingly explains to her that just because someone is getting something doesn't mean that she should also want and then get the same thing. He also tells her that when the time is right she might get her wish but for now both he and Nikki loved her too much and didn't want to share her with any other child. Nikki nods to this and that kind of placates her but she throws a dejected look their way but forgets it after a while and gets busy with other things.

After putting her to bed, Abhi calls Nikki for dinner and again she walks in with a preoccupied look and starts eating. "You Ok?" he questions, not understanding her sudden quietness.

"Um hum" she replies.

"Really.....doesn't look it....you are holding that bite in your hand for last 2 minutes" he points out.

She puts the bite in her mouth and starts eating slowly but does not venture any information as to what is bothering her. After dinner, both are clearing the kitchen when Abhi turns Nikki around, "What is it?" he asks her.

"Tia met Armaan today" Nikki blurts out and Abhi frowns trying to make sense of the statement.

"So" he questions.

"I don't know if she told him" she lifts confused and scared eyes up at him.

"Told him what? About us?" he asks in an expressionless voice.

"Yeah....I don't know....I mean he was asking questions'....what will I tell him" she thinks aloud, wringing her hands, unaware that her husband's eyes have gone cold at her last sentence.

"Why do you have to answer him anything?" he asks the same coldness creeping into his voice.

"Abhi.....please understand.....it's not like I.....look there is nothing to tell" she tries to explain where she is coming from but he steps back from her, his hands falling to his sides.

"Nothing to tell.....I see" and marches out into the hall.

"What.....Abhi wait" she follows him and touches him on his arm to get his attention. He turns towards her, his eyes spitting fire but does not utter a word.

"Why are you so mad at me?" she asks

"No.....why should I be mad.....especially with my wife.....who thinks that if the world finds out that she is married to me.....she will die of shame" he speaks slowly urging himself to rein in his temper.

"Don't start that again Abhi....it's just that it will be difficult to explain.....and I.....I don't want anyone to know that I married you just to keep Tia....I don't want anyone thinking less of you....or hurt Tia" she tries to explain reasonably.

"You don't have to tell them that.....but thanks for your concern" he fights back, at the same time appreciating in the corner of his heart that she did care a bit about him and his daughter.

"Abhi.....please.....look at me" she asks him and when he does she takes his hands and he looks at her perplexed. "I am not ashamed......please don't ever say that.....didn't my" and stops before she mentions their kiss.

"What?" he urges her to continue.

"We are in a complicated relationship" she sighs and sits herself on the couch.

"Complicated?" he repeats.

"I....you...we" she gestures at them both.

"You ....not me" he answers softly and she looks up at him, her eyes asking him to explain.

"You really need to figure out what you want Nikki.....it might help" he supplies and walks into his room.

"You.....I want you to love me" she mumbles after he has gone and thinks about where life has landed her, how the man she loves has no inkling of her feelings and noone close to her even knows she is married, falling asleep on the couch.

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