Nikki walks out of the Gupta house towards her car and looks at her watch. "6:00 pm.....Oh my god....I told Abhi that I'd be home by five" she dials his number.
"Nikki....finally you called" he greets her.
"I .....I am sorry I didn't realize it was six.....I am just headed out" she tells him, walking towards her car looking down instead of straight and bangs into someone and her cell phone falls out of her grasp but the person she bumped into catches it and hands it over to her. She looks into Armaan's very serious blue eyes, his name slips out of her mouth and she swiftly cuts the call.
"Hi....you here?" she questions him awkwardly wondering how much of her two line conversation he caught.
"Dr. Nikita Malhotra....these days you seem to be avoiding me" he rests his back on her driver side of the car and stands with his hands folded across his chest.
"Avoiding you.....of course not.....just a little busy" she lies.
"Oh busy......I see" he raises his eyebrows and looks deeply in her eyes and Nikki looks back but after a few minutes moves her eyes away.
"Armaan......I have to go" she motions for him to move away from her car but he calmly ignores her.
"Nikki.....as far as I know no one is waiting for you at home....so why don't you have dinner with us before you go" he unknowingly traps her.
"Dinner" she chokes on the word, Abhi and Tia's faces flashing before her eyes.
"Haan Nikki.....food.......why? Are you having dinner with that boyfriend of yours?" Armaan asks her outright.
"Oh so this is about Abhimanyu" Nikki confronts him.
Armaan stands up straight and takes Nikki by her shoulders, "It's about you....he has a daughter Nikki.....look I don't think you should get too close to him....he is just not right for you." He tells her his inhibitions regarding Abhimanyu.
"Armaan......he is perfect for me.....and thank you for your concern" she answers back, hating to hide the truth from her friend but choosing to do so and removes his arms from her shoulders.
Armaan rolls his eyes at her stubbornness and takes her hands in his. "Ok fine....just promise me that you will not do anything stupid......please think about what I am saying ok......I don't know but I always feel that he will break your heart......I worry about you Nikki and am sorry I can't help it......years of practice you know" he smiles ruefully.
Nikki looks into her best friend's eyes and sees worry for her in them and guilt lodges in her heart but she thinks about Tia's innocent face and why her marriage needs to be kept a secret and plasters a smile on her face. "Thank you for everything Armaan.....don't worry about me......I will take care that he doesn't break my heart....happy?"
"I wish Anjie was a boy.....would have married you off to him.....well you take care ok.....and don't thank me......I love you" he hugs her and Nikki's guilt doubles at his care and her lies.
"I love you too......and am very happy for you and Ridzi" she tells him and then leaves for home waving goodbye to her friend.
Armaan watches her leave with concern in his heart. He meets Riddhima in the house and confides to her that he thinks Nikki is hiding something from him.
"She is so involved with Tia......I don't know what she is thinking these days....Riddhima he is a father.......he is not the right guy for her" Riddhima shakes her head at his concern, "When you interfered in their relationship at Dr. Keerti's marriage, you remember what happened right?" she reminds him
"You saw her plight when Dr. Modi was in the hospital?......All she did was cry.....Armaan they love each other......for once let her decide....you be a friend and just be on her side" she tries to knock sense in her Fiance.
Armaan rolls his eyes at her statement. "How do you propose I do that?" he asks
"Make peace with Dr. Modi......Papa and I have invited him to our engagement but he will not come......for Nikki's sake why don't you invite him too......let them be Armaan" she suggest to him.
"Invite that sadu.....why is it that you don't see anything bad in your favorite Dr. Modi" he snaps a little irritated.
"Well you are determined to make him a bad guy '..... you refuse to see how happy he makes Nikki, how much he does for Sanjeevani and also helps us Interns" she points out the truth to him.
"Yeah Yeah......he is Mr. Perfect isn't he.....are you sure you want to marry me?" he irritates Riddhima and she turns angry eyes on him.
"Well......you won't listen na.....don't start with this.......just invite him for your best friend's sake.....he is Mr. Perfect for her" she retorts.
"Fine I will go and fall on his feet......happy?" he fights back.
"No don't be so kind......just try to be normal.....Ok" Ridzi scolds him and gets up to leave. He catches her wrist but she tugs trying to get free.
"Ok Riddhima.....as you say......I will invite him......but only coz I want to see what is going on between these two"
"For the last time......leave them alone Armaaan" Riddhima shakes her head.
Nikki reaches home and finds Tia seated on Abhi's lap and he is reading a story to her. As soon as she catches Nikki enter she jumps from his lap and rushes to Nikki.
"Where were you Nikki?.......I miss you" she tells her hugging her leg. Nikki bends down and hugs her.
"I missed you too Tiu......I had to go visit my friends.....but am back now.....you ate?" Nikki asks her daughter lovingly who nods her head to yes. She looks up to see Abhi smiling at her and smiles back hesitantly, Armaan's words ringing in her ears, "he'll break your heart". Tia tugs at her hand and insists that she read her a story.
"Tia your Daddy just read it to you" she tells her.
"Daddy not good.....you are better......I love you Nikki" and she hugs her tightly, a little insecure that Nikki had left her for the evening.
"Oh baby I love you too" Nikki hugs her and happily takes her in her lap reading her Noddy books. Abhimanyu watches this exchange silently for sometime enjoying the bonding between the girls and then goes into the kitchen to make tea for Nikki just to surprise her.
"Tia, off Nikki's lap, let her have some tea" he orders his daughter who clings to Nikki and refuses to get up and Nikki looks at Abhi's gesture with surprise.
"Tea?....Wow......Thanks" she takes it from him and takes a sip, the father and daughter duo watching her intently. She looks up from the rim of her cup first at Abhi, then Tia and then asks, "What?"
"I love you" Tia hugs
"I missed you" Abhi smiles. Nikki's heart swells with love for the two and she hugs Tia and gives a shy look to Abhimanyu. After a few minutes, Tia gets ready to sleep so, Nikki asks Abhi to put her to bed. He does so and she goes in after her lights are off just to kiss her goodnight.
After she kisses her, Tia whispers, "Nikki"
"Yes Tia" she replies.
"You won't leave me?" the little girl asks.
Taken aback by her sudden question, Nikki thinks for a second and then answers from her heart, "No Tia.....I will never leave you.....I love you a lot"
"You are the best mommy Nikki" the little girl finally gives her the place in her heart she so desired and drops off to sleep. Stunned at what just happened, Nikki rushes out to tell Abhi the best news ever.
She doesn't find him in the living room or kitchen so he assumes he is in his room and knocks but when she doesn't get an answer she peeps in to check. "Abhi" she says his name and gingerly steps into his room. "Abhi" she says it a little louder this time but when she doesn't hear any reply , she takes him to be in the bathroom and turns to leave when she hears a shocked "Nikki". She turns to see him standing in a towel, fresh out of a bath.
She looks at him and gapes and blushes furiously but can't help looking at him, her eyes slowly roaming the length of his body. Finally, getting a grip of herself but still rooted to the spot, she manages to choke out, "I....I .....knocked"
"You want something?" he asks coming closer, completely understanding the effect he was having on her and quietly enjoying her reaction.
"Tia.....she..... she.....ummm" Nikki tries to remember hard what she was here for but finds it difficult to gather her thoughts. She takes a deep breath and looks down at her toes.
"Tia said I was the best mommy" she is able to remember and shares.
"That calls for a celebration" he says smoothly inching closer. Nikki blinks her eyes and her mind orders her to turn and get out of the room but her legs feel like lead. Somehow, she turns to leave but he catches her wrist.
"I should leave" she says without looking at him.
"Yes you should" he agrees without letting go of her hand. She tries to tug it free but his grip gets stronger. She turns her neck to look at him and sees him smiling softly.
"Abhi.....I have to go" she says in a choked voice.
"Go....but before that I have a complaint.....I must say I am jealous" he converses with her as if this is a regular thing for them.
"You......ahem.....get dressed and we can talk" she tugs her hand again and his grip gets tighter.
"I will......but first I have to tell you that I missed you" he says pulling her and turning her towards him. At his sudden action, she turns and her hand goes on his chest to stabilize herself but she removes it away fast.
"I heard" she replies using her other hand to free her hand in his grip.
"Tia got three hugs and four kisses" he looks at her blushing face.
She looks up at him her mouth open and stops struggling for a second taken aback by his statement. "I got nothing" he completes. Nikki just doesn't understand how to answer this and resumes her attempts to free her hand not looking at him. He frees her hand suddenly and she runs from the room, leaving a smirking Abhi.
She goes to the kitchen, fills a glass of water and sits on the table, thinking about what just happened in his room. His body, his smile and his touch flash before her and she groans helplessly. *I hate him* she decides and gulps water and places the glass with a bang and gets up and starts pacing restlessly. *why does he have this effect on me.....why .....why*she feels butterflies in her stomach and holds her stomach and closes her eyes.
"Hungry?" she jumps at Abhi's voice and her eyes fly open and find a smiling Abhi standing in front of her. Color creeps up her neck under his scrutiny and she turns away. "Yes.....very......what is dinner?" she asks.
"Pasta" he says and that makes her look at him again. "Pasta?"
"Yes.....why don't you sit and let me get a plate for you" he starts collecting plates and Nikki moves slowly towards the table and sits.....unable to fathom what was going on. *He is actually being romantic......what is going on?*she wonders. He places a plate in front of her and she takes a bite....."nice" she mumbles. "Thank you" comes the reply.
"You made it?" wondering if the surprises would ever cease today.
"Well you taught me......so I thought why not try it" he shrugs and digs into his food.
"You....you made it for me? You don't like it much" disbelief laces her voice.
"I am changing" he replies and continues eating. She decides to stop questioning what was going on to stop her mind from spinning in circles. *I am an hour late and I find a daughter who accepts me as Mom and a husband who is doting on me.....this is good.....right?......yes it is good......please let this be forever* she prays. Their conversation veers towards how her practice was and did she have fun and so on.....she answers truthfully but after dinner is finished she can't take it anymore and decides to confront Abhi. They are walking towards their rooms when she bursts, "Abhi.....what is going on?"
"Excuse me?" he asks.
"You......why are you being so.....so ....nice" she says for a lack of a better word.
He smiles and says; "I missed my wife......so I decided to tell her how much.....that's all" he turns slowly to face her.
"Oh" Nikki looks at him.
"Yeah" he replies to her oh.
"Ummmm.....Ok....thanks" she doesn't know what to do and starts fidgeting.
"Only you would say thanks Nikki" he laughs.
"But am still mad at you" he complains.
"Huh?" she looks up.
"Yeah" he moves closer and she takes a step back and her back meets the wall. Abhi's hands cup her face and her eyes close of their own accord. He bends down and places a soft kiss on her lips and Nikki responds. Her hand moves towards his neck and she pulls him closer, giving back a kiss for a kiss. When they come out of their passionate moment, Abhi looks into her eyes and softly caresses her cheek with his fingers, "This is fair.....am not mad anymore" and smiles lovingly. Nikki rushes to her room and slams the door and slowly falls on her knees, ordering her heart to be still.
She hears his soft "Sweet dreams" and listens intently till she hears his door close.*what is wrong with me.....why can't I stay away from him?*she thinks.
*Coz you don't want to.....you love him and Tia like crazy.....they are your world Nikki......just stop running from them.....stop running Nikki.....you have them......don't let them go .....ever* her heart speaks the truth.
She finally accepts the fact that however hard she tries; this was one thing she could not run away from and did not want to run away from. "Finally I am home" she takes a deep breath and promises to make this marriage real.