"What?" Nikki asks shocked and looks at the older man who does not shy away from both their gazes.
"I told you Nikki…..never believe him" Abhi tells her hotly "Not only our baby …..He wants to interfere in our work too" he gets angry.
Recovering from her shock, Nikki goes closer to Abhi and touches his arm gently, her eyes pleading for him to forgive. "Abhi" she looks into his eyes and his mouth tightens with fury. He turns on Mr. Bakshi and asks, "Why are you really here?" his voice soft and dangerous.
"Well Abhimanyu…..if you talk to me you will know why I am here……are you ready to talk to me?" asks Mr. Bakshi , his eyes very serious.
"I don't want to see you or talk to you ever…..but you obviously are here with a plan…….and I have no choice but to listen" Abhimanyu concedes, ready to know what the older man had come for.
"Let's sit and talk" Mr. Bakshi leads the way to the couch and unwillingly Abhi and Nikki follow him. Mr. Bakshi sits on the three- seater, while Abhi and Nikki take a seat on the loveseat. A nerve ticks near Abhi's jaw, indicating his anger and agitation. Nikki plays incessantly with her hands, cursing herself for landing Abhi and Tia in a situation where they both were about to lose each other and she herself would be suffering the biggest loss of all.
*Please God……punish me…..but don't take Tia away from Abhi……he doesn't deserve to pay for my mistake* Nikki sends up a prayer.
Abhi's heart races at what is going to come but he refuses to believe that Tia would be taken away from him. *My daughter will remain with me….has to….I have her custody…..I will go to the end of this earth to get her…..No Abhimanyu….she is not going anywhere* he tells himself over and over again.
Mr. Bakshi looks at the pair sitting in front of him and sadness creeps into his eyes. Two people who had done everything in their power to love and keep a child who was not related to either. The child in question, his granddaughter Tia loved her parents and he knew for a fact that this time over if he took away Tia, he would be playing with not one but three lives. He sighed. He had to do this……that is why he was here. It hurt, a lot, but he was used to it now. He was here to remedy this hurt.
"Well" Abhimanyu prompted, getting anxious "do you have something to say?"
"I have a lot to say son, but you seem to be in a hurry to get rid of me" Mr. Bakshi gave a wan smile.
"I never wanted you here in the first place" Abhimanyu replies contemptuously.
"I know that son" he shrugs and looks at his hand.
"Then you shouldn't have come….. but since you obviously did…..please tell me why you are here?" Abhimanyu bluntly asks the older man unable to control his bitterness.
"I am here for Tia" he replies simply and Abhimanyu jumps up from his seat and starts pacing angrily. Nikki and Mr. Bakshi look open-mouthed at his reaction.
"Uncle……why?" Nikki is unable to help herself from asking "Abhimanyu and Tia love each other……why are you taking her away from him?" she asks, getting angry on Mr. Bakshi for hurting the people she loved.
"I know that….if I didn't believe that earlier…..now I have seen" he answers.
"Then why?" she asks while Abhimanyu tries to rein in his temper, talking to himself not to throttle the man sitting before him.
"Look beta…..all I have is Tia's…..and since she is here in India with the two of you, I thought I should bring to her what is hers here…….I know Abhimanyu that this New Sanjeevani is a project close to your heart and so is Tia…..so I am investing in it but will give you the power to control all the money and decisions related to the project and also you will control all Tia's money till she comes of age" he finally tells the two the reason for investing in Sanjeevani.
Abhi and Nikki's mouth falls open in surprise and Abhimanyu stops pacing. "What…..what did you just say?" he asks again not able to believe his ears.
"What you heard…..you have free rein now to make your dream come true but I just have a request" the older man smiles for the first time in so long, the count of which he too had forgotten.
"Oh you have a condition" Abhi's mouth tightens again.
"No just a request……can you please build a house for the parents who come to New Sanjeevani for getting their children treated……it's sad to see them struggling when they are already in so much pain…..I have set up a trust for that and you can provide the facilities on minimum charge…..but please name it after my children….Jai and Aarti" Mr. Bakshi presents his request and his eyes fill with tears and Nikki's eyes get wet too.
"Why are you doing this?" ABhi takes his seat and asks Mr. Bakshi "And Tia….. you want her in exchange of all this…. right?......Look take your money and do what you want to….but I am not giving up Tia" Abhimanyu replies not ready to relent or be bought with Mr. Bakshi's offer.
Sighing deeply, Mr. Bakshi turns to Abhimanyu and says, " I am doing this simply because I know that I haven't been the best father, father-inlaw or a grandfather……I have hurt to the core those very people who I loved the deepest……I know" he says raising his hand as Abhimanyu is about to launch into another tirade "bear with me….hear me out Ok….patiently"
Abhi nods and sits back to hear what Mr. Bakshi wanted to say.
"I know I made it obvious that I was not happy with Jai's marriage to Aarti or the circumstances of the wedding" referring to Aarti's pregnancy.
"But am proud of him that he did what was right and had a happy life till that acci….." and he chokes with grief. Nikki gets up and sits next to him, taking his hand and trying to console him. He looks at her and gently cups her face. "You know….my wife always wanted a daughter……I would have wanted someone like you" he kisses her forehead gently and tears flow freely from Nikki's eyes. Abhimanyu looks at the small exchange between Nikki and the older man and his eyes narrow, wondering whether to believe Mr. Bakshi or not.
"I did get Tia's custody when Aarti's mother passed away….but I was too bitter to cherish the gift handed to me…..I blamed Aarti and Tia for making me lose my son" he continues and unable to stop himself, Abhi interrupts.
"Why blame them….it was you who lost your son when you disowned him" he bites out.
"Thank you for the reminder son, I did figure that out……I have wasted a lot of time wallowing in emotions which made me lose everyone I love…..but now I have seen the error of my ways….It's too late now…..but at least I can ask for forgiveness if nothing else……from Tia and you two and my wife…..Jai and Aarti….eventually" he gets emotional.
"Uncle please" Nikki comforts him and he smiles at her and looks at Abhimanyu.
"You are very lucky to have found Nikita you know…..she not only helped you in your sham of a marriage but truly loves Tia" he tells the both that he knew about the truth of their marriage. Nikki's hands turn cold and Abhimanyu's head snaps up. "What?" he asks shocked.
"Yeah…..you asked her to marry you to keep Tia….did you not? No use denying it" Mr. Bakshi confronts him.
"How?" all he asks as Nikki looks worriedly at her husband whose eyes darken in anger.
" Money can do a lot of things Abhimanyu……your maid…..she told me you were staying in separate rooms…..but Nikita agreed to room with you just so you don't lose Tia….I don't know of many people who would do something like this" he tells him the source of his information.
"You spied on us?" Abhimanyu asks anger lacing his voice.
"Yes…..when I challenged your custody since then……but I am glad I did….I got to see that Tia has two loving parents who would go to any length for her…….I can die happily now" he answers frankly.
"Die….please uncle don't say that" Nikki tells him.
"I am dying beta…….that's why I am doing what I am doing…….putting all my money in trust for Tia and signing all rights to her to you Abhimanyu…….Tia is officially a Modi now" he puts to rest the doubts which had plagued Abhimanyu for a long time now.
"Tia will always be a what she wants to be Uncle…….I am not going to take anything away from her" he addresses the older man how he had always done before bitterness had torn them apart.
"I know that Abhimanyu……I always trusted you…..more than myself….and you have proved to be such a good father to a child who is not even yours ….whereas I failed in my role as a father to my child" Mr. Bakshi says sadly.
"I am sorry for all the pain and anguish I have caused you……but this time…..I hope I made it right" he asks a little unsure and Abhimanyu comes and sits next to him.
"I am sorry for everything too…..but thank you…..you did make it all right" he says taking his hand.
"So…..you promise to love my baby forever?" He asks the last question which would lift the burden of grief he had been carrying for so long.
"Uncle….I promise…..but I would like for you to stay in Tia's life too" Abhimanyu concedes to share Tia with her now loving grandfather and tears fall from the older man's eyes.
"I was hoping you would agree…..I don't have much time Abhimanyu…..but I would like for Tia to have happy memories of me not the sad ones" he says and the two men hug each other, finally forgiving each other. Nikki wipes her tears and is happy at the reconciliation.
"I….I will go and check on Tia…..she should have been awake by now" she excuses herself and leaves the two men alone to themselves.
Once Nikki goes out of earshot, mr. Bakshi turns to Abhimanyu, "You are still an idiot" he says nonchalantly.
"Excuse me?" Abhi's looks up at him shocked at being talked like that.
"I said you are an Idiot…….but I am not going to sit on the sidelines to see you make a fool of yourself….if you want your daughter…..you better make sure, Nikita Modi signs her name on the mother's line" he delivers looking Abhimanyu in the eye, not an iota of pity for the young man.
"I intend to" Abhi mumbles looking away.
"How….by sitting here?" Mr. Bakshi asks him, having a field day at Abhimanyu's discomfort.
"You don't know anything….I …will…when" he starts when the older man raises his eyebrow.
"I am your father's age and believe me I know when a man is in love but acting like a stubborn idiot……and you fit the bill perfectly right now" he says and Abhimanyu gets angry.
Mr. Bakshi laughs. "I have said what I wanted to say…….you do what you have to…..I have a granddaughter to make up to…..whereas you young man…..have a wife to make your own" he delivers a parting shot and heads towards Tia's bedroom to start a new relationship with her leaving Abhimanyu with a jumble of thoughts.
Mr. Bakshi walks into Tia's room and sees Nikki lift worried eyes to him.
"What happened Nikita?" he questions coming closer to her and sees Nikki with a thermometer in her hand. "Tia is sick" she replies her tone worried.
"What ? How?" he asks going close to the child and touching her forehead and feeling her burn.
"I have no idea……she was fine in the morning" Nikki replies a little worried.
"Don't worry beta……children get sick…..she will be fine soon…..we'll take care of her" he tries to reassure Nikki who tries to calm herself too.
Abhimanyu walks into Tia's room and Nikki hurries to his side, "T…Tia has fever" she tells him unable to control her tears.
"Nikki…..she will be fine…..you are a doctor….you have treated so many children and this is slight fever……..why are you upset?" he asks her gently wiping her tears and Mr. Bakshi smiles.
"T…Tia" she says and then wipes her tears feeling silly for worrying. She looks at Mr. Bakshi's tired face and urges him to rest. "Uncle…..am sorry…..I understand she will be fine…..you should take rest too…..you look so tired" she tells him and walks with him to his room.
"Thank you Nikita….for all you have done…..but there is one last thing I need of you" he asks of her as she turns to leave.
"Tell me Uncle" she asks.
"Tell that husband of yours how much you love him" he smiles at her and she gasps.
"I…..umm…I " she starts to stammer and he sits on the bed, beckoning her to come closer. She does so and he makes her sit beside him. "You do love him na?" he asks taking her hand in his.
She nods a yes without looking at him. "Then tell him……he is a stubborn mule…..am sure you found that out on your own" he smiles and Nikki laughs lightly.
"Don't worry Uncle…..I will" she pats his hand and asks him if he is comfortable.
"Uncle….tomorrow we will take you to Sanjeevani….you will be checked thoroughly…..now rest "she orders and he obliges.
Nikki takes care of dinner, while Abhi looks after Tia. She feeds Mr. Bakshi and then heads to Tia's room.
She tries to feed her daughter, who is cranky and complaining. "Tiu…please ….you have to drink this" she tries to spoon some soup in the child's mouth but she refuses to drink.
"I hate it Nikki…..its yucky" she complains.
"Tia…..take it as medicine…..don't you want to get well?" she asks her gently.
"I don't want it" Tia pushes her hand away. Nikki looks at her in exasperation. She walks out and finds Abhi on the phone talking to his lawyer.
"I don't need her anymore……yes….yes please get the papers ready……..no don't worry about Nikita….she will understand" she overhears him and wonders what he is talking about. She goes closer to catch more of what he is saying. "Yeah…..no…..ok….Oh Nikita will sign it….I am sure she will agree to it…..she knows about it……she understands our deal" he says and Nikki's mouth opens in shock but no sound comes out.
*So he was getting papers ready……she had served her purpose……he had gotten his daughter and now he did not need her anymore…….so she would be asked to sign divorce papers* waves of shock go up her spine. How could she have believed all this sham to be true? He had said it was till he got Tia's custody. She had been a fool enough to believe that he loved her and would make it work. Did she never learn? Her heart breaks in two but she turns back to tend to a sick Tia.
"Tia drink" she says but the child refuses.
"Tia" she says warningly and a pouting Tia opens her mouth and Nikki feeds her.
"You are angry at me Nikki?" Tia asks, her voice wobbly.
"No….No baby…..but you have to listen to me when I say something" she hugs the little sick girl.
"I love you Nikki" Tia hugs her back.
"I love you too" she says and tucks her in for the night, kissing her forehead.
"Mommy used to say that if she kisses me…..my boo boo will go away….I will be well now Nikki" Tia reassures her and goes back to sleep. Nikki lovingly sits next to her and watches her fall asleep. Her hand roams on her face and she bends down to smell her baby smell. Trying to etch her daughter in her memory.
"Sorry Tia…..I could not give you forever……I know now he doesn't love me……But I love you and him…..very much…..please take care of him for me" she whispers and sits there watching her sleep till Abhi comes to get her.
"Nikki" he calls softly and she looks up. "Dinner?" he asks her and she gets up and follows him.
They eat in silence, Nikki barely touching her food. Abhimanyu notices, "Tia will be fine…..don't worry Nikki" he places his hand on hers but she snatches it away.
"I know" she says and gets up and starts clearing the kitchen. His eyes narrow at her response but he asks her. "Is there something wrong?"
"Nothing….why should there be? You got what you wanted…..now leave me alone" she snaps at him, remembering what she had overheard.
"Yes…..but I couldn't have done it without your help……thanks a lot Nikki" he comes and hugs her but she pushes him away.
"Don't touch me…..alright…..well I did what I had promised……now we don't need to act anymore so you can stop this sham" she tells him angrily.
"Oh" he stops short at her tirade. "Act?" he asks her.
"Yeah….now uncle also knows the truth….so please stop your loving act and stay away from me" she bangs the glass down and walks away leaving Abhi gaping.
"What did I do now?" he scratches his head, unable to fathom what happened to his wife. He follows her and sees her go into Tia's room and sit there lovingly looking at her daughter.
*Nikki you love her so much…..you are a great mother…..but sometimes look at her father too* he smiles humorlessly.
"Nikki" he calls her.
"I'll sleep here…..I need to take care of her…..please leave" she tells him off rudely.
"Why are you angry?" he asks her.
"I am not….just worried" she lies.
"I understand….but it's nothing Nikki" he comes closer.
"Well I can't sleep knowing she is sick" a sob escapes her and Abhimanyu closes the distance gathering her in his arms. She pushes him away again. "I said I am fine…..I'll sleep here" her tone clipped.
"Fine….lets go to our room" he lifts his sleeping daughter and puts her down in his bed. "At least there will be space here for you to sleep" she points out.
"Fine" she says and goes to change. He shakes his head at her mood and goes out in the living room. Nikki comes out and lays next to her daughter, looking at her. Soon she is asleep too and when Abhi walks into the room, he finds his wife and daughter asleep in each other's arms. A smile escapes him and he lies next to the two beautiful girls who summed his life. Soon the family is asleep , Tia's head resting on her father's chest and his arms encircling both his wife and daughter who had squeezed next to him.
Abhimanyu gets up to find Tia's fever gone and Nikki sleeping peacefully. He freshens up and goes to check Mr. Bakshi, who is up and about and feeling much better. They decide to get all the formalities over with. Abhi and Mr. Bakshi leave for the lawyer's office and Nikki heads t o the hospital taking Tia with her instead of sending her to school.
The whole gang greets her and she greets them back and tries to be her happy self around them.
"Nikki" Armaan calls her and she smiles.
"I just wanted to know something…….what about his wife?" he asks her and she blinks.
"What wife?" she asks confused.
"Tia's mother" he says.
"Oh" she smiles and tells him how Tia had come about to be his daughter and Armaan looks stunned. "You mean…..oh wow….seriously Nikki…..I can say gladly now that good you chose him" finally respecting her husband for the man he was.
"Thanks" she sighs and gets busy with work. Mr. Bakshi stops by the hospital and tells Nikki that he is going to Pune for a few days to meet some family and she bids him a heartfelt bye.
Done with her work, she leaves a message for Abhimanyu that she is leaving and asks him to pick his daughter. Once home, she starts packing her stuff furiously, ready to leave the life she had come to love so much behind and go back to being on her own.
"You can send your stupid papers for me to sign….i will not wait around here to be told you don't need me" she gets angry at Abhi and almost jumps out of her skin when she hears lightening crackle.
"Oh nice….rain" she puckers her nose but gets back to packing after switching on all the lights in the house to evade darkness.
"Pay the damn bill….you deserve to" she takes out her anger on her non present husband.
Having packed, she is ready to leave when hears rain pouring. She goes out through the back door and stands out in the rain. She turns to look at the house which had become home and thinks about all the beautiful time she had spent here with the two people she loved most. Tears of sorrow and regret mingle with the rain pouring and drenching her. Nikki stands there oblivious of it and sobs rack her body.
*Abhi's Kiss of revenge*
*Feeding Tia breakfast*
*Him proposing her here*
*Him reassuring her*
*Him bringing her here as his bride*
*Him fighting with her*
*Him caressing her face*
*Him kissing her*
*Why….why …why me….don't I deserve love?* she screams her anguish looking up for answers.
Strong arms grip her slim body and she stops crying abruptly. She turns in shock to see herself encircled in her husband's arms. His mouth comes down on hers hard and possessive. Nikki melts in his arms never wanting this kiss to end. Her last kiss with a man who ruled her heart…..was her heart.
"You were leaving?" he asks gruffly and she stares at him nonplussed.
*She should have left….why was he here?.....she could not face him…..her heart was breaking* "Yes" she says softly. he shakes her and she blinks
"How dare you?" he growls bringing her closer to himself.
"I….have to go" she tries to get out of his embrace but he holds her chin and makes her look up. What she sees in his eyes makes her jaw drop.
Immense love and need filled the dark eyes which looked at her unblinking. He bends his face and kisses her again. Pours his love in his kiss and Nikki's hand moves to his neck, standing on a tiptoe she kisses him back hungrily.
You crazy girl…..I love you so much and you were ready to leave me?" he growls threading his fingers in her wet hair and making her look at him.
"L…Love?" she asks him unable to believe that the words her heart was yearning for were coming out of her love's mouth.
"You make me crazy Nikki…..I can't live without you…..my heart skipped a beat when I saw your things packed….why were you running?" but before she can answer he clamps his lips on hers kissing her like a starved man.
"I ….you….told your lawyer you didn't need me" she tells him.
"Not need you….. are you mad?....How am I supposed to live without you?......I don't know how anymore" he tells her caressing her face, his eyes drinking her beautiful face hungrily.
"Then you told him that I…I would sign the papers willingly" she ask playing with his shirt buttons.
"Are you trying to kill me Nikki" he hisses and she looks up innocently. "Stop touching me like this or" he threatens.
"Or?" she asks maintaining an innocent expression on her face.
"Or this" He kisses her again moving down to her neck and she tries to push him away and he looks at her amused.
"Scared?" he teases.
"You wish….what were the papers Abhi?" she asks secure in his love.
"Those were Tia's custody papers Nikki…..you have to sign as her mother" he tells her and joy floods her eyes.
"I love you Abhi" she hugs him and his heart explodes with joy at hearing the words which sealed her with him.
"Really…..I thought you only loved Tia…..and that's why you want to stay with me" he teases and she hits him on his chest.
"You got that right" she looks at him smug "but I love you somewhat too" she concedes.
"How much?" he asks her bringing her closer and she kisses him pulling his head towards herself.
"Tia" she suddenly gasps.
"She is watching cartoons with her granddad" he smiles wickedly "We have all the time for this" he bends forward again but she makes a face and holds him at length.
"He….he was" she asks him confused.
"Well I asked him to babysit her……told him I had a wife to take care….who runs away at the first sign of trouble" he can't stop himself.
"I do not" she tells him hotly.
"Yes you do….I stopped you "he fights back and she sticks out her tongue at him.
"How? "she asks naughtily.
"By kissing you, begging you and marrying you" he replies ticking it off on his finger, eyes twinkling.
"Abhi….stop" she laughs happily.
"Are you ready to live with me forever Wifey?" he asks his eyes suddenly serious "because even if you are not….I am not letting you run away….ever." he tells her and she smiles shyly.
"I don't want to go away now….ever" she replies back looking into his eyes.
"Will you be my forever Nikki?" he asks her cupping her face and she replies by kissing him passionately.
"Forever" she replies.
Happy at having found each other, both walked hand in hand to their daughter and a life of love both had craved for and finally been blessed with.
Their Covenant of Marriage finally turning into a promise of LOVE.