"Hello" Nikki replies looking stunned at the man standing before her. She holds Tia more securely in her arms and her heart starts beating faster. She takes a step back and stands a little behind Abhimanyu, wanting to protect their daughter. The elderly man's eyes reflect pain at seeing Nikki's reaction to his presence. In a gentle tone he asks Nikki if he could look at Tia.
"She is asleep" Nikki informs him, taken aback at his gentle demeanor.
"I know.....if you don't mind may I please have a look at her" he insists wanting to feast his eyes on the one person in whose face he could see his dead son.
"Look Mr. Bakshi" Abhimanyu starts when Nikki slowly comes closer to the older man and turns so he can see the sleeping child in her arms. Tears well in his eyes and he touches the soft cheeks of his granddaughter as if touching something priceless and breakable.
"Nikki ......please take Tia inside" Abhimanyu orders her and hands her the keys. Nikki looks up in the eyes of the older man and sees his heartbreak but takes the keys and moves to go inside the house.
Once inside, she gently places her sleeping daughter on her bed and places kisses on her forehead, eyes and cheeks. "I love you Tia....I love you so much" and hugs her sleeping form, not wanting to let go. *He won't take you from us......I can see it in his eyes Tia......he understands how much we love you.....please god don't let him take her from us* she prays with ardent fervor. With an effort she snatches her gaze from Tia's sleeping form and goes out of her room to look for Abhimanyu.
She hears him arguing with Mr. Bakshi at the front porch.
"You should not have come here" Abhimanyu is telling the elder man hotly.
"Look Abhimanyu....she is my granddaughter.....I have a right to see her" she hears the elderly gentleman arguing with her husband.
"Not after what you did to her" Abhi refuses to budge from his stance.
"All I am asking you is that may I talk to her for fifteen minutes.....is that too much to ask?" His tone turns beseeching.
"What for?To tell her who worthless she is?..no...I won't let you do that to my daughter" Abhimanyu refuses his request.
"People make mistakes Abhimanyu.....and you can't spare fifteen minutes for me..... of my own blood?" Mr. Bakshi asks sadly. Nikki can't stand the two men arguing and goes out.
"Abhi.....Mr. Bakshi.....please come in and talk" she tries to stop the men from creating a scene.
"He is not coming in" Abhimanyu tells Nikki looking at the older man with blazing anger.
"Abhi" Nikki goes close to her husband and gently touches his arm to make him look at her "he just wants fifteen mintues"
"Nikki you don't know him......what he is capable of" Abhi's tone softens when he looks at his wife.
"Abhi please.....he is her grandfather" she tries to reason with him but Abhi looks away. Sighing she turns to Mr. Bakshi whose tired face and sad eyes make her heart ache. She goes near him and asks, "Mr. Bakshi.....why are you here?" and he looks at her with clear eyes answering, "To meet her.....can I have one chance....I know you both hate me....but I just want some time with Tia" he takes her name lovingly.
Nikki's heart refuses to believe that the person who was taking her daughter's name so reverently and had pain in his eyes for that child would want to hurt her. So, without asking Abhimanyu she decides to take the situation in her hands wanting the best for her daughter. "Where are you staying Mr. Bakshi?" she asks the old man who looks at her surprised at the change of conversation.
"I....I have just landed a few hours back.....have to find a place to stay yet.....why?" he asks unable to believe that his wish might be granted while her husband looks at her confused.
"Okay then.....you can stay with us tonight.....Tia is asleep now....but when she gets up in the morning.....you can have your fifteen minutes with her" she decides not to deprive Tia of her grandfather. Abhi gasps in shock at hearing his wife's words and both the men gape at her. She looks from one stunned face to the other calmly.
"Well" she prompts and watches her husband's gaze turn from shock to furious in a second and her heart skips a beat. "Are you crazy Nikki? He can't stay here" Abhimanyu speaks very softly looking furiously at her and Nikki understands that she has trouble on her hands but refuses to back down.
"Abhi......nothing is wrong....he has come all the way for fifteen minutes......we can give him that" she tries to reason with her husband whose already furious gaze turns blazing hot.
She tries to look at him, pleading with her eyes but he looks away from her, his mouth set in a grim line and a nerve working in his jaw, the indication that he was trying to control his anger with an effort. She turns with a sigh to the elder gentleman and motions for him to enter the house and leads the way. With a look at Abhimanyu, Mr. Bakshi takes his bags and follows Nikki inside. Abhimanyu stomps inside his anger about to explode through the roof at Nikki's decision but the mere thought of Mr. Bakshi being around makes him clamp it down.
"Thank you Nikita......this means a lot to me" he says and Nikki smiles at him whereas Abhimanyu looks daggers at his wife.
She offers him water and he excuses himself to refresh himself. As soon as he is out of earshot, Abhimanyu follows Nikki to the kitchen and turns her a little angrily to face him. "Abhi" she gasps at his rough touch and collides with him. For an instant awareness replaces anger but the spark dies in a short second.
"What were you thinking Nikki.....you invited him to stay?" he hisses, his painful grip on her arm making her wince.
"Ouch.....it hurts" she complains and he relaxes his hold immediately.
"Answer me Nikki" he asks her coldly "I thought you loved Tia"
"I love her more than I love myself Abhi.....did you not see the pain in his eyes?" she answers her husband honestly.
"Pain.....you can see his pain.....what about the pain he will cause our baby?" he asks her not understanding how she could side with the devil that was here to take his daughter from him.
"Abhi.....he won't hurt Tia" she reassures him, touching his face gently. He puts his hand over her hand and holds it there leaning into her touch. "How do you know....I can't lose her....she is my life" his eyes reflect immense pain and Nikki's heart lurches at his vulnerability and she hugs her husband.
Mr. Bakshi clears his throat and Abhimanyu and Nikki jump out of each other's arms. Abhimanyu turns his back to the elderly gentleman but he comes near him and gently places his hand on his shoulder and he flinches.
"Abhimanyu.....I promise you one thing....I am not here to hurt Tia" he looks into his eyes with honesty.
"You can stay here....but I don't believe you.....if you could hurt her once you can do it again......why don't you let her be in peace.....she is with people who want and love her" he tells him icily moving away from him.
"People make mistakes Abhimanyu" the elder gentleman answers.
"You are making another one.....but I won't let you" Abhimanyu warns him.
"No.....this time I am not" Mr. Bakshi answers with conviction and Abhimanyu shrugs.
"We'll see" Abhi says under his breath and stands staring at the man in front of him who shakes his head and turns towards Nikita.
"Thank you again for letting me stay......if you don't mind, I would like to rest now" he requests and Nikki nods.
"Sure.....are you hungry?" she asks him and gets a wan smile in return. "You are very sweet Nikita.... but no thank you" he replies.
"Will you excuse us" Abhi interrupts rudely and takes Nikki by the arm out of the kitchen and stops in the living room.
"Abhi.....what now?" she questions exasperated at his behavior.
"Well you have invited him to stay.....but where will he stay?" he asks her, his arms folded in front of him.
"What do you mean.......he can stay in the guest" and Nikki stops abruptly realizing that she had just invited him to stay in the room she occupied. She looks helplessly at Abhi who is not ready to give an inch. "Oh my god.....now what?" she asks almost wailing.
"You.....tell me" he points at her a smile of victory spread on his face.
"Tell you what?" she asks confused and he sighs.
"Tell him to leave" he points out simply and Nikki's mouth forms a thin line.
"I can't do that.....that's so mean" she gasps at his audacity.
"Fine then what do you propose that we do?" he asks her his tone extra sweet and Nikki starts thinking biting her lip.
"Idea" she snaps her finger "I can room with Tia" she smiles.
"Lovely....and he will take her away from us sooner than tomorrow.....now" he snaps back sarcastically.
"Then?" she lifts her beautiful yet confused eyes to her husband and a wicked smile comes on her husband's face and he comes close to her, bends down and speaks in her ear, "Wifey....as you invited him in....your punishment is that I will be your roomie....welcome" he says very softly in her ear and color creeps to her face when she understands what she had landed herself in. He steps back and looks in her eyes smiling satisfied. Nikki glares at him and walks back into the kitchen.
She takes some stuff out of her room for the night and invites Mr. Bakshi in the room and smiles a little self conscious. "I am sorry Mr. Bakshi" she starts when he lifts his hand "Please don't be so formal.....Uncle is fine.....like Abhimanyu used to call me once" he smiles sadly.
"Thank you Uncle.....I 'this room has a lot of my stuff....I well" she tries to explain why the room had her stamp without making him aware of her situation.
"It's Ok....my wife has a whole room which stores her stuff and what not" he waves away her explanations and retires for the night.
Coming out of her room, Nikki's heart starts hammering * Wifey......roomie.....oh my god*Abhi's words ring in her ears and she lifts her cold hands to her hot face. *Share his room.....I am telling him that I am going to sleep in Tia's room.....no way can I sleep with* and she stops abruptly closing her eyes at the ideas which started flashing through her mind. *get a grip on yourself Nikita.....breathe.....yes....well just sleep in Tia's room and get up early.....no one has to know.....how will they know*
"Yes that is what I will do" she talks herself to calm down and approaches Abhi's room and stops dead outside not able to lift her hand to knock. *I can't do this.....I....well it's not wrong .....I am married to him* she leans on the wall for support and starts breathing to calm herself. After a few minutes she convinces herself to face the inevitable and closes her eyes and knocks.
When no one answers, she slowly opens the door and peers in. *No Abhi....must be in the bath* she heaves a sigh of relief and walks in.
"Wifey" she hears his voice and abruptly turns her back to the voice closing her eyes. "A....Are you decent?" she asks remembering the last time she had walked in on him.
He comes and stands in front of her trying hard not to laugh at her. "No.....but you can look" he replies softly in her ear and a current passes through her and she jumps at his voice in her ear.
"No.....I don't want to" and turns away from his voice.
He goes and stands again in front of her ready to burst into laughter. "You will have to" he blows seductively in her ear and she turns such a deep shade of red that Abhimanyu promises himself to name the color on her name.
"Nikki....you can look" he tells her and she slowly opens her eyes and looks at a fully clothed Abhimanyu standing in front of her, his eyes twinkling with laughter. She turns away from him. "I....I just wanted to...tell you that I....umm.....I am going to sleep in Tia's room" she says blushing and stammering.
"Really....and tell your friend what?" he asks her the laughter vanishing from his eyes and face.
"Abhi.....he won't know" she turns to face him "I'll get up early and" he raises his hand.
"You created this situation Nikki.....not me.....I am sorry.....I am not going to compromise Tia's custody" he tells her his eyes serious. Nikki gulps and shifts uncomfortably under his stare.
"F....Fine" she stammers giving up her lame idea and looks everywhere but him.
"Wh....where will......I mean....how" she clears her throat looking around the room and not finding a couch.
He points to the bed. "It has two sides....choose whichever side you want" and Nikki's eyes fly to his face her jaw hanging open.
"Same b....b....bed?" she croaks.
"Well do you have another idea?" he asks enjoying her discomfort.
"Umm.....f....floor" she dares to suggest.
"Sure....wherever you are comfortable" he shrugs and Nikki takes a step back in shock.
"Don't look at me like that Nikki......all this was your idea" he points to her and stands there watching the expression of panic flood his wife's face.
"Fine.....I will take the floor" she makes a face at him and he raises an eyebrow.
"Really Nikki.....well the extra bedding is in the guest room....where your guest is sleeping" he points out and enjoys the look of dread replacing panic.
"I.....I.....I" Nikki stammers.
"You......what?" he asks.
"C....Change" and she runs into the bathroom and locks herself. *Same bed.......what have I done.....Nikki you are the biggest idiot ever born.....oh my god.....what am I going to do?.....Lock yourself in here*she goes crazy thinking. She calms herself, washes the make-up and starts changing when her choli hook refuses to cooperate. She tries hard to open the hook but her hand does not reach there. She looks for a scissor to cut the choli rather than walking out and asking Abhi to help. Finally tired of her attempts she walks out and Abhi looks up at her questioningly.
"You didn't change?" he enquires.
"I....uh.....the hook.....can you please help me" she asks him not meeting his eyes and he gets up to do the needful. He moves her hair and unhooks the button his touch sending shivers through her. He moves his fingers lazily on her back and she stops breathing. "Abhi" a whisper escapes her and he turns her around gently.
He caresses her face and his eyes turn tender. Nikki is unable to move out of his arms rooted to the spot.
"You looked beautiful today Nikki" he compliments her and she starts trembling when his fingers move from her cheek to her neck. "All I wanted to do was take you in my arms" he breathes softly coming closer and looks down at her. Nikki is unable to move her gaze from his and looks at him mesmerized.
"Beautiful" his finger moves from her neck to her collar bone and he presses a kiss on her neck. Nikki gasps and closes her eyes. He looks up and claims her lips in a passionate kiss. Nikki's hand moves in his hair and she can't help responding. After a few minutes she realizes what she is doing and pushes him away and runs into the bathroom.
*What is wrong with you....are you mad?....stay away from him Nikki.....stop this* she chides herself pressing her hands on her cheeks. She takes her time to change and waits in the bathroom hoping he would be asleep by the time she gets out. After sometime she goes out and sees Abhi sleeping on his side and moves to take the other side and places herself on the far corner.
Soon she is fast asleep, sleeping comfortably after a long, long time. She turns and snuggles into her husband's arms during the night. She breathes him in and smiles contently in her sleep settling in his arms. Abhimanyu too holds his wife securely in his arms enjoying the feel of her and settling her comfortably against himself. Both sleep content to be in each others arms.....finally.