Tuesday, February 2, 2010

~Covenant of Love~ Part 24

The Saturday dawns a perfect day and Nikki gets up excited for her friend's big day. She rushes through the motion of breakfast a huge smile plastered on her beautiful face. She pesters Abhi to hurry up so she can get Tia ready.

"What do you have to get her ready for?" he asks smiling at her contagious enthusiasm.

"Well my daughter needs to look the best" she replies back bugging Tia to hurry up with everything.

"Nikki......I am hurrying" Tia replies from the restroom, at a loss to understand why her mother was behaving like a whirlwind. When she gets out of the restroom, Nikki pushes her back in and also Abhi to get her showered quick.

"Nikki....calm down.....its 11:00 am....the function does not start till 4:00 pm" Abhi tries to calm the hyper woman before him.

"11...its already 11....OMG Abhi I have to be there at around 12:30 all of us are getting ready together.....please hurry up....now....don't stare" she pushes him to get Tia ready and rushes herself.

After her shower Tia comes to Nikki's room and asks her, "Daddy wants to know what your next order is?" Tia repeats her father's word.

Nikki rolls her eyes and marches out to talk to Abhi, "Abhi....I am taking Tia with me" she shouts from her door so he could hear wherever he was. He comes to her room at that statement and looks at the furiously packing Nikki and watches his daughter helping her pack.

"Tia.....why don't you select a dress" he motions for Tia to go to her room. Nikki looks up at his voice and replies for Tia, "I have selected something for her.....she will look" but Abhi raises his hand for her to stop and turns to his daughter. "Go on Tia.....we will be there soon ok" Tia nods and runs to her room to select her dress, Nikki's enthusiasm rubbing off on her.

"Nikki.....what are you doing?" Abhi asks her his face grim. Her smile dims at his expression.

"What do you mean?" she asks confused.

"I understand your excitement Nikki.....but you can't take Tia" he delivers without a trace of humor in his voice.

"Why not?" Nikki raises her brow and stands with hands on her hips mimicking Abhi's stance.

"Look Nikki.....just to remind you.....Tia is my daughter as everyone knows and also..... have you forgotten that you have not told anyone that We are married" he reminds his wife whose memory comes tumbling back and her enthusiasm is dashed.

"Oh" she says and comes down crashing to the real world. Abhi goes closer to her and says gently. "Look Nikki....just forget it Ok......I think it would be best that you go and enjoy the engagement. Tia and I should not come." He tries to talk sense into her.

"Why not? Dr. Shahshank, Riddhima and Armaan all want you to come." She reminds him of all the invites he had received for the engagement.

"I know Nikki.....but I don't have a good feeling about this......look don't get upset about this '.but I think Armaan won't like it much and I don't want to deal with that" he warns her without letting on how Armaan had behaved while issuing the invite.

"No....No....Armaan is fine....he wants you to come....please come" she looks at him with hope.

"Are you sure?" he asks her; uncomfortable with her hopeful gaze and very sure that Armaan was up to something.

"Of course" she replies.

"Fine....just be careful Nikki" he agrees against his instinct and walks out after warning her.

Nikki instructs Abhi what to make Tia wear and rushes out to go to the Gupta house where her friends were waiting for her. She breezes in apologizing for being late when Muskaan gets on her case.

"Oye Nikki.....why are you late.....that machar gave us a day off and you are still late?" she thunders at her and Anjali joins in. "Nikki....you should have stayed here with us yesterday night you know....don't know why you insisted on going home"

"Guys.....guys am sorry.....I overslept.....yeah Anjie...I should have....but forget it....am here now...so let's get started" she avoids the topic and the girls start getting Riddhima ready, teasing her about Armaan, hugging her and basically losing track of time.

They get Riddhima ready in a purple ghaghra choli which has antique zardosi work and sequins. Anjie dresses up in silver net lehanga choli and Muskaan looks at her up and down. "Thank god Anjie....it's not blue" and the other girls start laughing.

"Shut up Muskaan" Anjie swats her "I let you wear a saree''see ho w good a friend I am"

"Oh yeah''you wore this coz you loved it the instant you saw it'.Ridzi told me'..not for me you liar" Muskaan fights back and gets into an argument with Anjie.

Riddhima rolls her eyes and turns to Nikki who is looking stunning in the burnt orange lehanga choli and is busy brushing her hair. Riddhima looks intently at her friend and sees a small smile playing on her lips while she is getting ready and decides to tease her.

"You got the insurance Nikki?" she asks Nikita who looks at her confused.

"Insurance?" she repeats and Ridzi nods seriously.

"What are you talking about Riddhima....oh .....if you think Armaan will lose your ring .....don't worry....I don't think he is going to take it off" she assumes Riddhima is talking about the beautiful ring they had gotten for Armaan.

"Oh am not worried about Armaan Nikki.....I was talking about you" she says he face still serious but with an effort.

"What do I need an insurance for Ridzi? I don't have anything valuable" she sits next to Riddhima, all done with her makeup and hair.

"Oh you do....Dr. Modi's heart.....he is going to faint when he looks at you today.....you look beautiful" she compliments Nikki who blushes a crimson at the mention of her husband but recovers fast. "Well don't worry about Abhi...I'll take care of him" she replies naughtily "but I think Armaan's heart will need insurance too" she laughs when she sees her friend's face match her color. They tease each other and Anjie and Muskaan too join Nikki in teasing Riddhima.

Padma enters the room and asks the girls to hurry up as the grooms side had arrived and it was time to start the ceremonies. As soon as she leaves, the girls start teasing Ridzi again. When Ridzi reminds them that they should head down, Nikki teases her, "Awww how sweet Ridzi....you can't wait haan" and nudges her.

"Nikki.....you better get done fast" Ridzi reminds her ignoring her earlier remark.

"Oye hoye Ridzi....am ready" Nikki twirls before her laughing "I would never delay you would I?" she keeps teasing her.

"You are not going to wear any necklace or earrings?" Muskaan points out and Nikki hurries to get her jewellery out of her bag. When she opens the necklace Abhimanyu had given her yesterday night, the three girls let out a collective gasp. "What?" Nikki asks turning.

"It's gorgeous" Anjie says fingering it reverently.

"It looks really old to me" Ridzi states.

"Who gave it to you?" Muskaan asks and Nikki is left speechless, not understanding how to answer the question.

"Umm....yeah it's a family heirloom" she answers avoiding everyone's eyes and going back to tying it around her neck.

"Sahi hai Nikki.....I love it" Muskaan says and the rest agree.

"Well am ready....lets go" Nikki turns around and the girls take Riddhima down where Armaan, his family and friends and the guests are waiting.

All the boys stare at their respective girls and Nikki's eyes search for Abhi. Not finding him around her happiness dims a little but she joins her friends in teasing Armaan and Riddhima.

"Armaan you ready to be a ghulam?" Nikki teases him and he laughs.

"Me a ghulam.....no ways" but when Riddhima looks at him he suddenly changes his stance and looks at her lovingly, "Riddhima.....you are the queen of my heart" placing his hand on his heart and everyone bursts into laughter. The wicked teasing goes on and everyone is having fun at the others expense but Nikki's gaze keeps darting to the door in search of her husband.

Muskaan notices this and pulls Nikki close in a conspiratorial whisper, "You like someone particular?" she asks and Nikki nods, "Of course not"

"Then who are you looking for?" she asks her

"Arre no one.....I was just....looking around to see who all have come she makes an excuse.

The girls are all called in for the dance and with a heavy heart Nikki trudges to the floor fingering the necklace *maybe he won't come.....can't blame him......he is trying hard to like Armaan but.....oh god I miss you Abhi please come.....please* and doesn't look up to see her husband entering.

The dance starts but the guys can't stop themselves from entering it and soon the whole practiced routine turns into an impromptu dance session with the boys teasing and dancing with the girls. Abhi looks at his wife dancing with her friends and notices her not as excited as she appeared to be in the morning. Suddenly she turns in his full view and he notices her necklace and his smile brightens to a thousand watts. *She wore the necklace* his mind and heart scream in unison. He notices her leaving the dance midway and glumly walk to a side.

He bends to Tia and whispers, "Tiu.....there's Nikki "and points her mother out.

Tia looks at her father and gives him an excited smile, "Can I go to her Daddy?" she asks fidgeting.

"You can but don't trouble her Ok and come back soon.....I'll miss my favorite girl" he kisses her on her forehead and Tia runs to her mother's side.

"Nikki" she shrieks and launches herself into a surprised Nikki's arms whose smile brightens immediately and eyes start searching for Abhi and Tia notices.

"Nikki.....Daddy is there" she shifts her face to where Abhi was standing and Nikki blushes when their eyes meet. He is about to come and join them when Dr. Shashank and Padma stop by his side and he gets busy talking to them.

"Nikki you look so pretty" Tia kisses her and Nikki returns the compliment and starts playing with Tia, oblivious of Armaan's piercing gaze on her.

Armaan takes Muskaan aside and tells her to show Nikki a guy he had chosen for her. "Armaan.....Nikki will get mad" Muskaan warns but he pays no heed.

"Look Muskaan I think if I don't do this she might end up making a wrong choice......all you have to do is intoduce him to her......I think he is her types......do it ok" heputs his plan into action with Muskaan.

"Nikki I want to dance too" Tia implores and Nikki takes her to the floor and both start dancing. Muskaan goes closer to the girls and bends down towards Tia. "Hi there......I am Nikki's friend Muskaan.....who are you sweetie?" she lovingly asks.

"Tia" the little one replies and promptly hides behind Nikki.

"Tiu.....come her.....Muskaan she is" Nikki is about to utter my daughter but catches herself in the nick of time. "Dr. Modi's daughter"

"Oh so this beautiful girl is that mach......I mean Dr. Modi's daughter" Muskaan sits to Tia's level and starts making friends with the girl who slowly starts talking to her. Muskaan and Nikki get busy playing with Tia when Anjie too comes and Nikki introduces Tia to her too. After a while Ridzi notices all the girls talking to Tia and she joins the group. "This is the bride Tia" Nikki introduces and Tia's attention goes to Riddhima and she gives her a bright smile. "You look pretty Riddy" she says not able to pronounce her name. Ridzi too joins the girls in talking and playing with the Tia.

Armaan notices the girls huddled around Tia and his mouth tightens. "This Nikki na.....she is going to end up playing mummy to this idiot's daughter" he speaks under his breath and heads towards the group.

"Hi Girls" he interrupts and all five look up at him, Tia going in Nikki's arms again.

"Hi Tia.....you gorgeous girl......Riddhima can I marry her?" he teases the tot and grabs her from Nikki's arms lifting her in the air and Tia shrieking with happiness.

"Muskaan.....did you do the work I gave you?" he turns to his friend and makes eyes towards Nikki. "Anjie.....Atul and Padma aunty are looking for you" and Anjie excuses herself. "Riddhima.....Dr. Shashank want us to meet with some people" he tells her and puts Tia down. "Angel .....your father is looking for you" he tells Tia who looks at Nikki and starts dragging her. "Come Nikki lets go to Daddy" she urges her and Armaan gives a skeptical look to Nikki who chooses to ignore him and follows Tia.

Tia and Nikki reach Abhi and Nikki looks at him a little shyly. "Daddy I met all Nikki's friends and they are all so pretty" Tia tells her father who picks her up and listens attentively.

"Really Tiu.....who is the prettiest?" he asks laughingly and Tia replies, "My Nikki" and both burst out laughing.

"Right answer Tia" he says looking into Nikki's eyes and Nikki gasps in surprise.

"What?....No one told you before?" his eyes twinkling ,he teases his wife who nods a No and Abhi smiles.

"Tia.... tell Nikki that she is the most beautiful girl we have ever seen" he prompts his daughter who obliges.

"Nikki.....you are the most beautiful girl Daddy has ever seen" and Nikki blushes crimson not believing that this was happening with her. "I like your necklace" he tells her, his meaning sinking in, Nikki's eyes fill with love for him but before she can utter a word, Muskaan comes there.

"Hi Dr. Modi....Nikki...lets go.....there is someone Armaan wants you to meet "and she drags her from there leaving Abhimanyu scowling.

"Muskaan who....what?" she asks her but Muskaan drags her and introduces her to a smart chap who looks interested in Nikki. He tries to talk to her but Nikki is not interested and excuses herself to get back to Abhi and Tia. On the way Padma stops her and asks her do a few things for her. Nikki clamps her restlessness and agrees. While she is instructing the mithai boxes to be placed at the right place she hears a group of girls giggling looking at someone and she looks in the direction one of them is pointing and sees Abhi. *My Abhi.....they are talking about my husband" irritated she walks closer to overhear their conversation.

"Yeah that guy in the white Kurta......I think he is really handsome" one was saying.

"He is adorable......have u seen him smiling.....I think he is not taken.....he was not dancing with anyone" the other says.

"One of us should ask him" another one suggests and Nikki's temper rises. *I can't dance with my husband and these evil girls are planning to.....I'll see how you do it* she thinks and moves towards the group.

"Hi girls" she breaks in smiling a saccharine sweet smile. "I couldn't help overhear you talking about Dr. Modi.....he is our boss......he has a four year old daughter you know" she enlightens them and the girls look disappointed and Nikki feels triumphant.

"Really?" they chorus and Nikki nods. "Oh excuse me.....I have to get the sweets ready" and she makes her escape, happy at having gotten the evil spirits from her Abhi.

Finally after getting the work done, everyone gathers for the ring exchange, which gets done amidst a lot of teasing and good wishes and then food is served and an announcement that the dance floor is open too is made. Tia clings to Nikki and asks her to feed her ignoring all Abhi's warning.

"It's Ok Abhi" Nikki hugs Tia and Abhi softly informs her, "Nikki.....everyone will talk......it's better if Tia remains with me."

"No one is looking Abhi.....you are paranoid" she ignores him and walks with Tia to feed her.

"This woman is going to create trouble.....first she insists on keeping the whole thing silent and today she is behaving like she doesn't care.....I don't think I'll ever understand her" he mutters and lets her be.

Armaan notices Nikki and Tia's closeness and beckons Muskaan, "You can't do a single thing right.......I have to do everything" he scolds her and Muskaan walks away in a huff. Tia and Nikki eat together and go to the dance floor when Armaan cuts in, "Can I dance with Tia" he asks Nikki who is surprised and takes Tia in his arms and starts moving to the music. "You Nikki find a partner" he instructs and starts dancing again while Nikki simply smiles and looks in Abhi's direction, hoping he would ask. She starts walking towards him when the rest of the gang comes on the floor and they ask her to join them.

"So Tia.....you really love Nikki?" he starts conversationally and Tia nods happily.

"She loves me too......she is the best Mommy" Tia replies stunning Armaan.

"M.....mommy?" he is taken aback.

"Yeah Nikki is my new Mommy.....she and Daddy" but before she can complete her sentence Abhimanyu cuts in.

"Can I dance with my girl?" he asks Armaan and takes Tia from his arms. Astunned and slowly getting furious Armaan hands him his daughter and walks towards Nikki but Riddhima stops him and he gets busy with her.

After some time when most of the guests leave, Abhi and Tia too go to excuse themselves and Nikki looks at him longingly, wishing he would stay. Armaan gets a few moments and takes Nikki by her hand and starts walking to a private corner.

"Armaan......what is this?" Nikki gets angry at him for dragging her.

"What is going on with you and Modi Nikki?" he hisses softly, anger lacing his words.

"N....Nothing" she lies.

"You are lying to me....look Nikki ....I am not blind Ok.....his daughter never left you for a second......nor did you for that matter and he .....kept looking at you .....as if you belong to him" he confronts her.

"Armaan......Tia ....I love her......and spent some time with her....what's so wrong?" she asks a little troubled by her friend's anger.

"Wrong.....that little girl thinks you are her new mother......look Nikki she is getting attached too much to you......just stay away from her ok" he instructs her, clamping his anger and taking on a friendlier tone.

"Mother.....she called me mother.....to you?" Nikki's happiness knows no bounds and she misses the expression of understanding which settles on Armaan's face.

"Nikki......what is going on?" he asks too calmy.

"Nothing Armaan.....look you are getting worried without a reason......it's nothing" she tries to pacify him.

"Really......well as I believe you......I want you to meet someone I think you would like" he changes tracks.

"What......why would I want to meet anyone......you know I love Abhi.....look Armaan don't do this." She gets angry.

"That Abhi has a kid.....and what is wrong in giving yourself a chance......you might discover that you actually were wrong in your feelings and finally understand that he is playing you" Armaan finishes.

"He is not" she shouts and suddenly lowers her voice "playing me.....Ok.....I don't want to meet anyone else" she turns away trying to leave but Armaan stops her.

"Nikki.....why are you so adamant......I am just asking you to meet not marry that person" he tries to reason with his friend.

"I said No.....now let me go" she gets angrier and tries to walk out of his grasp.

"You want to choose a loser and not give yourself a chance......how smart Nikki" Armaan says while letting go and Nikki turns back furiously at him.

"Armaan....don't you dare say that.....he is not a loser" she says softly going closer.

"Ha" Armaan laughs and Nikki snaps.

"Don't you do that ok.....you are talking about my husband here......not some random guy you want me to meet" Nikki blurts out and Armaan looks stupefied at her while she slaps a hand to her mouth.

"What?" is all Armaan is able to utter and when Nikki turns around she meets Riddhima and Abhi's shocked gazes.

Abhi recovers the fastest and comes and stands next to his wife who is looking pleadingly at him to get her out of this mess. Armaan comes out of the shock when he looks at Abhi and his eyes harden.

"Is she right?" he addresses Abhimanyu who replies without flinching, "Yes Dr. Malik she is" and Tia moves to hug Nikki sensing immediately that she is troubled.

"Don't cry Nikki..... Daddy will make everything alright" her voice rings in the silence between the adults and Nikki lets out a sob.

"Nikki.....it's alright" Abhi looks at her, his voice neutral and eyes expressionless and she melts into his arms hiding her face in his chest.

"Armaan.....please don't create a scene" Ridzi warns her eyes pained at Nikki's statement too.

"Riddhima......she.....Nikki how could you do this......Dr. Modi.....why would you do that?" Armaan asks both of them and as Abhimanyu is about to answer, Nikki moves from his arms and turns to Armaan.

"Don't ask him......ask me.....I wanted to marry him.....all he did was ask" she speaks from her heart and Abhimanyu looks at her shocked.

"You wanted to marry him?" Armaan asks and she nods.

"Just like you want to marry Riddhima......I am sorry I lied to you.....but I knew you would not be happy.......but Armaan I am very happy......he is a very good father and the best husband I could have hoped for" she lays her heart bare to her friend while her husband stands there falling deeper in love with her.

Armaan stares into his friend's eyes and suddenly moves to hug her. "Idiot.....that is what you are.....an Idiot" he tells her.

"You.....you are not mad?" she asks incredulously.

"I am.....very......but he is your husband and you chose him Nikki.....so I can't do anything about it.....though I want to" he gives an evil eye to Abhimanyu who rolls his eyes.

Armaan and Riddhima congratulate the couple and they break the news to the rest of the gang who is bewildered and then congratulates them and Nikki looks at Armaan understanding that there was a lot of apologizing she would have to do for the heart break she had caused him but happy that she wouldn't have to live a lie anymore. After all thse congrats is passed around the couple and Tia decide to leave as it is almost near Tia's bedtime and her eyes are drooping.

Abhi asks Nikki to come in his car and they can pick her car later and they head home, Abhi happy that finally his wife had stood up for him and determined to tell her how much he loved this crazy girl.

Nikki too thinks in the comfortable silence between them that she will tell her husband how she cannot live without him or rather does not want to live without him and Tia anymore.

Reaching home, Abhi takes the sleeping Tia over his shoulder and they move towards their house. He sees someone standing near the front door and hands Tia to Nikki and moves forward to check.

When he sees the person standing on his porch, his eyes blaze in anger. Nikki stops besides him and looks from her husband to the elderly man standing in front of her.

"Hello Abhimanyu" the elder man greets the younger one with a smile.

"What are you doing here?" Abhi ignores the greeting and growls.

"Abhi" Nikki asks him "who is he?"

"You must be his wife......Nikita....right.....nice to meet you.....I am Arun Bakshi......Tia's grandfather" he introduces himself to a shocked Nikki who clutches Tia possessively.

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