"Abhi" Nikki softly murmurs in his chest, her heart hammering. He had apologized'.for the first time since she had known him, he had apologized properly. Her heart had forgiven him the moment his lips had claimed hers. He had tried to make up with her the whole day. It felt good to know he cared so much. Cared'.so he does care for me. She smiled against his chest. He smelled so nice and warm''Just like a slice of heaven. "Her Husband" she repeated in her mind, never wanting to come out of his arms '.ever. Her hand automatically started going up and down his back slowly'.savoring the feel of him and he relaxed with her touch. "Mmmmm" he replies contentedly holding her tighter.
Suddenly she realizes what she was doing and her hands stop.
"Nikita Malhotra '..you crazy woman'..what are you doing?" her mind argues.
"Nikita Modi''I can do what I want'.it's not wrong'.he is my husband'.we are married and I love him" her heart answers.
"You love him''but does he?" her mind raises the one question which stops her dead and she tries to get out of his strong arms.
"I '..I want to breathe" she squeaks and he immediately loosens his grip, looking down at her concerned. "Am sorry" his tender dark eyes caress her face. She pushes away from him and wraps her arms around herself, close to tears.
"Nikki" he gently lifts her face to his and when he sees tears' glistening his mouth tightens. "I said I was sorry'.I had no right to hurt you like this '..especially when you are trying so hard''I promise I won't say that again" he apologizes again, unable to bear her tears.
"Promise" she says in a small voice looking expectantly at him. In that moment he would have promised the woman he loved anything she would have asked for. So he nods a yes. At that moment their house phone shrills and breaks them out of their moment. Abhimanyu goes to receive the call and Nikki sinks into the nearest chair''her head in her hands.
*Why 'why'why'..why can't I tell him that I love him more than anything''why do the words get stuck in my mouth''.I melt the moment he touches me'..I thought I could stay away from him''why is it so difficult''I want him and Tia to be mine forever* she thinks.
*They are yours'..but you are scared of losing them''you have to tell him Nikki'.it is impossible to hide* her heart tries to tell her but her brain overrules it with *Nikki'..it's a favor'..he only needs you till Tia's case gets settled* and a few tears escape her. She sits up and wipes them away. "I want them and this time I will not lose them" she promises herself and walks out towards her room.
"Nikki" Abhi calls her and she walks towards him. He hands her the telephone and she mouths a "who is it" and he replies "Mom" and smiles. Nikki's eyes open wide in amazement. She grabs the receiver almost in childlike enthusiasm and happiness radiates from her face.
"Hello Mumma" she speaks happily into the receiver and starts talking to her mother-in-law like a long lost friend, pushing Abhi out of her way and taking the phone to the couch and sits their cradling it, busy talking. Abhi looks at her in stunned surprise'..never having thought in his wildest dreams that his mother and his wife would get along like a house on fire and both would forget him.
"Ahem" he clears his throat and Nikki Looks up at him and goes back to her conversation. He clears his throat again. She puts her hand on the receiver and looks up at him a little annoyed "What?" she asks him.
"You mind if I talk?" he extends his hand for the receiver and she turns away with it "What do you need to say?" she asks.
"Nikki'.my mother'..want to talk" he speaks slowly as if explaining to a small child.
"You talk everyday'..I want to talk" she argues back and Abhi looks at her incredulously and she resumes her conversation.
"What?" he shakes his head and stands their looking at her chatting merrily away. Soon she is done and replaces the receiver with a satisfied smile on her face. She looks at him and her eyes narrow.
"What now?" he rolls his eyes.
"Well your Mom asked me how I liked the gift she had sent for our wedding?" she faces him her arms crossed in front of her and feet tapping impatiently. When he does not answer she prompts him, "Well"
"Well'.what?" he asks.
"I told her that my loving hubby forgot to give it to me" she explains to him.
"You want what she sent?" he asks slowly and she nods.
"Why?" he asks her again very softly.
She looks into his eyes and realizes'.he was waiting'..for the right answer. "Because I am the bahu of your family" and dares him to challenge her on this. A slow smile spreads on his handsome face and then his eyes twinkle and he laughs. "Ok bahu'..lets go" he takes her hand and walks her to his room. She stops at the door and he tugs her in. "Your husband's room" he cannot resist and she colors.
"I'.I am'I will wait here" she frees her hand of his grasp her mind urging her to run. This is not what she had expected. She fidgets uncomfortably under his scrutiny and his smile evaporates.
"Fine" he shrugs and goes into his room to get her first present from her new family. She waits with bated breath and Abhimanyu comes out of the room with a small box in his hands.
"Are you sure'..you might not like it or appreciate it" he gets uncomfortable with the content of the box, his eyes shifting.
"Not like it'.why will I not like it?" she asks him.
"I don't know '..well you know what'.if you don't want it'.just tell her you liked it and give it back to me'.she'll never know" he tries to give her a way out.
"Abhi'why are you saying this?.....I am sure it is a thoughtful gift'.of course I will love it" she tries to reassure him, confused as to why he was sure she would not like the gift sent to her.
"Don't tell me that I didn't warn you" he says and hands her the box.
With trembling hands she opens the box and gasps at the contents and tears start flowing incessantly from her eyes."Oh" she manages to gasp. Abhi is shocked at her reaction and tries to take the gift from her hands. "I told you'.look we will tell her that you got it" but Nikki snatches it back from him.
"What?" he looks at her confused. "I 'love'.it" she manages to say through her tears. He looks at her confused. "You love it and you are crying so much?"
"Yes" she nods "Tears of happiness and joy" she tells him wiping her eyes. "It's very old'.right?" she caresses it lovingly.
"Yeah it's been in our family for generations'..as Mom told me and goes to the elder bahu" he points to the beautiful gold piece with a beautiful flower shaped pendant resting in its velvet case. "It's the family mangalsutra" he completes and Nikki's shocked eyes shoot to his face.
"M'..M'.Mangalsutra?" she speaks the word slowly and reverently.
"Yeah" his unflinching gaze looks at her.
"Still want it?" he asks her when he sees a million emotions flit across her face'..one of confusion predominant.
"S'.She'gave me your family heirloom" finally Nikki realizes why Abhi never gave her the gift his mother had sent her so called bahu. Not knowing how to deal with the gift she closes her eyes and slowly sinks against the wall, needing its strong support.
"Abhi'I" she looks into his waiting eyes "C'.can I'..may I keep it?" she asks him simply and honestly wanting to treasure this love for as long as it was in her life.
"Nikki 'it is yours'..you are my wife''am glad you like it" his voice neutral but his heart glad at the fact that she had accepted it.
"Thanks" she murmurs and walks in a daze to her room and sits on the bed hugging the gift close to her heart. "My first traditional thing'.ever" she smiles at herself, her smallest dream coming true and rushes to wear it and see how it looked.
Meanwhile in his room Abhimanyu sits smiling on his bed. *This is given to the eldest bahu''and you know Abhi'..I think this is a lucky charm more than a mangalsutra''has the power to bind you forever to this family* his mother's words ring in his ear. "I hope this lucky charm retains you in my life forever Nikki" he prays fervently.
The Friday passes in a spate of work. Armaan is working but Riddhima is off for two days. The interns are all excited and incessantly talk about the coming big day for their friends. Abhi sees them all huddled in the cafeteria talking loudly and happily when he walks in for lunch. He takes his luch in a corner and picks a spot which gives him a good view of his wife and eats watching her happily laughing with her friends.
Nikki feels as if someone is watching her and looks around. She catches her husband's dark gaze on her and a smile escapes her. He smiles back and she looks away shyly. Armaan catches her smiling at Abhi and his eyes narrow.
"Dr. Modi" he calls out to his boss and Nikki looks at him agape. Abhimanyu turns his gaze towards Armaan, the warmth in them diminishing.
"Why don't you come here?" he invites and the rest of the interns look horrified at him as if he had grown a second head.
"Armaan'.are you mad?" Muskaan hisses and Nikki's heart pinches.
"No thank you Dr. Malik''please carry on" comes the reply and again Nikki's heart pinches.
"Well Dr. Modi we were just discussing about tomorrow. I hope you come to the engagement" Armaan issues his invite again and Nikki looks from her best friend to her husband, her heart in her mouth.
Abhimanyu gets up and clears his table and after he is done he goes to the interns and thanks Armaan for the invite. "I'll see if I am not busy" he gives a tight smile and watches pain flood his wife's eyes which are looking unblinking at him.
"Well I sure hope you are not" booms Dr. Shashank's voice and Armaan scrambles to his feet.
"This is what I was telling Dr. Modi and moreover all of us are anxious to meet his daughter" he smiles at Abhi and Shashank.
"Oh yes Dr. Modi'.all of us are curious to meet her'.Riddhima can't stop mentioning her" Shashank smiles and Abhimanyu gives a tight smile.
"I will definitely try Dr. Shashank" he smiles at the elder man.
"No try Dr. Modi'...you are coming" he slaps him on the back and leaves wishing everyone a quick bye and Abhimanyu leaves soon after.
"He won't come" Rahul prophesizes.
"Who will miss him?" Muskaan asks and Armaan catches Nikki's sorrowful expression at this.
"He will come'.for you" he whispers softly in her ear and she looks and shakes her head.
"No he won't" she says sadly.
Nikki reaches home and gets busy in selecting a dress to wear for her friend's engagement. Tia enters her room and hugs her legs.
"What are you doing Nikki?" she asks her big brown eyes looking wonderingly at all the beautiful dresses spread on the bed.
"Tiu baby I am trying to select what to wear tomorrow" she tells her daughter, sinking to sit on the floor and sitting Tia on her lap.
"Everything is so beautiful" Tia gets up and touches all the different colored dresses.
"Yeah'.but I don't know which one to wear'.help me Tia" Nikki laments and buries her face in Tia's small body and hears a giggle.
"Let's ask Daddy'.he always chooses beautiful things for me" Tia comes up with the bright idea and rushes to call Abhimanyu before Nikki can stop her.
Tia drags Abhi in Nikki's room telling him Nikki's dilemma on the way. As he enters his wife's room his head starts aching at the choices before him.
"I'I am sorry'Tia just" Nikki starts to apologize getting conscious of his assessing gaze which travelled from each dress to her making her feel like he was seeing her in each dress.
"Hmmmm" he looks at the choices on the bed and stands thinking.
"Daddy choose" Tia orders.
Abhimanyu goes closer and lifts the burnt orange lehnga choli with zari work on it and holds it against her. "I'd like to see you in this" he looks into her eyes and delivers and Nikki swallows hard.
"Me too" Tia claps her hands and hugs Nikki. "You will look so pretty" Tia looks up with love in her eyes and Nikki smiles at her.
Abhimanyu turns to leave when Nikki asks, "W'.will you come?" and he stops and turns at her.
"Do you want me to come?" he asks her the same question he had asked Armaan.
"Yes" she replies without blinking he eyes.
"Then for you Nikki'.I will come" he replies and his heart gladdens for putting the beautiful smile on his wife's face and he leaves the room a happy man.
Nikki bends down and hugs her daughter and gives her an extra hug for her dad's side too. *For you Nikki'.I will come*these words meant that Dr. Abhimanyu Modi was finally falling back in love with her. She cannot stop smiling.