"No" both Abhi and Nikki answered in unison. They looked at each other and looked away embarrassed.
Innocent brown eyes looked at both confused. "Tiu....umm Tiu ....how how did you come here?" Abhi asks his little daughter a little flustered. She runs towards him and lifts her arms indicating to be picked up. Abhi picks her up n she hugs his neck. "Kiss me too.....Kiss me too" she implores her father. Nikki blushes a deep red on hearing this and is at a loss to react.
Abhi kisses his little daughter on the cheek and asks her how she got to his office alone. "Julie dropped me.....Daddy I was good girl there so I got candy" she tells him her achievement and struggles to get out of his hold. He puts her down and she rushes to Nikki. "You are not sad now.....Daddy always kisses and makes it better" she smiles up at Nikki. Hearing this Nikki gets wildly flustered. "T....Tia...ummm....am..am.."she looks helplessly at Abhi.
"Come here Tia." Abhi beckons the little girl and when she goes to him he sits on his haunches and holds her little face in his hands. "Baby, Daddy did not kiss Nikki.....actually there was something in her eye and I was trying to get it out. Ok?" Tia nods her understanding. Nikki takes a sigh of relief and starts to leave when she hears Tia telling her father that Nikki had stopped by in the afternoon to play with her and she was sad. "Daddy I kissed her.....you should also kiss her and make her booboo go away" she sagely advises.
Hearing the little girl's words Nikki blushes crimson remembering the kiss Abhi had planted a few minutes ago. "Bye Tia" she whispers and almost runs out of Abhimanyu's cabin. Watching Nikki get embarrassed and escape, Abhimanyu sits his daughter in his lap and explains to her "Tia you do not talk like this to elders."
"Why?" she asks
"Because others get embarrassed" he explains gently. She wrinkles her forehead, "Embassed?"
"Embarrassed....unhappy" Abhi corrects her and explains.
"No, Nikki loved my kiss she was not embass.....she was crying and I kissed her and she smiled Daddy." She explains to Abhi touching his nose and then planting a kiss on his nose and laughing happily and putting her nose out in the air for Abhi to kiss. Abhi sighs and kisses Tia on the nose and she giggles with laughter.
"Tia......stop beta.....listen to me" He tries to explain to the playful girl who struggles to get out of his lap.
"Tia stop...where are you....what?" he asks as she stops in front of the laptop.
"Jasmine.....I wanna see jasmine cartoon Daddy" she tells him.
"Ok .....Ok I will play it but you have to listen to me first.....Do not say kiss in front of Nikki......she doesn't like it and she will get upset...ok?" he goes on patiently.
"Ok......Jasmine Daddy." She says impatiently and he switches on the cartoon and moves to his desk to look for the Sanjeevani project file. He finally finds the file he was looking for and starts going through it and making notes.
Out of Abhimanyu's office, Nikki walks in a daze to the locker room and plunks herself on the bench.
"He kissed me" she whispers unbelieving and remembers the scenes which occurred in his office. How he abruptly turned and she fell on the chair, he got mad,she asked him to stop but he kissed her."I asked him to stop" and she colors at the memory. A small smile curves the corner of her mouth. "He kissed me."
"Oye Nikki....what are you saying.....khi khi kya?"Muskaan bellows
Nikki abruptly stands up and looks around scared if Muskaan heard what she was reminiscing about. 'Hi Muskaan...kya hua?" she asks
"Nikki....you were talking to yourself.....anyways chaddo....where were you? I was looking for you...we have duty in children's ward and if Modi finds out we are late he will kill us" she tells her. Hearing Abhimanyu's name Nikki's cheeks color and she hurriedly moves out to complete her duties ordering her mind to concentrate on work.
The next day Abhimanyu has meetings the whole day and Nikki spends all her breaks with Tia in the day care center playing with the little girl. As she is about to leave for the day, he pager buzzes *Abhimanyu Modi* She walks into his office and finds him the phone and is about to leave when he motions for her to wait. She turns around and sees Tia asleep on the sofa. She goes and sits next to the sleeping child and gets lost in admiring the perfect little girl. *Losing both her parents but still she is such a happy and well adjusted child. Tia you are very lucky to have your Abinamyu daddy and he is very lucky to have you. Sometimes real parents are also not able to give you the love you deserve* she lovingly moves her hand over Tia's face. She turns to see Abhi watching her intently.
"She is beautiful.....your daughter is an angel" Nikki smilingly states. Abhi gives a curt nod in her direction and motions her to sit. She takes the chair opposite his desk and he passes her some papers to look at.
"Dr. Modi did Tia eat? She is asleep so early" a concerned Nikki asks.
"Dr. Nikita, I am her father. You need not be concerned about her. These are a few things we need to work on and submit to the board by next Friday. Please start working on it." He replies in a professional tone. Hurt creeps into Nikki's eyes but she behaves professionally too. Suddenly Abhi's cell phone rings and he excuses himself to take the call and walks out of the cabin. Nikki gets busy in reading the papers when she hears a sob behind her.
"Mommy" sobs Tia in her sleep "Don't go Mommy". Nikki rushes to the sleeping girls side and tries to soothe her "I am here Tia....you are fine.....don't worry" she pats the little girl. "Hush.....go back to sleep baby"
"Mommy?" the almost asleep figure asks questioningly.
"Yes baby, Mommy is here...go back to sleep" and she puts her back to sleep. Tia holds Nikki's hand and in two minutes goes back to sleep. Nikki gently untangles her hand from Tia's and gets up and turns to go back to her chair when her gaze clashes with Abhimanyu's furious one. He grabs her by her forearm and drags her away from the sleeping Tia.
"A....Abhi...you are hurting me....what are you doing?"She asks shocked.
"How many times do I have to tell you to stay away from my daughter?" he whispers angrily so as not to awaken Tia.
"B...but....why are you so angry....she had a nightmare.....I was just" she starts explaining not being able to understand why Abhimanyu was so mad at her.
"You are not her mother.....you understand....do I make myself clear....she does not need you....I do not need you....we do not need you......just stay away from my daughter.....don't try to hurt her." He goes on angrily coming closer.
"I was not being her mother Abhimanyu......she was scared" tears spring into Nikki's eyes
"You should have called me......there is no need to play Nurse to my child.....don't try to come close to her" He stresses.
"Stop....please stop.....I know she is your child....Abhi....I know"and Nikki starts sobbing.
Watching her cry, Abhimanyu feels guilty and his anger dissipates. "I...I am sorry Nikki.....I know....you were taking care of Tia...am...this call" he takes a deep breath and makes a sobbing Nikki sit on the chair and sits on his knees in front of her. "Nikki...please stop crying....look at me" he pleads
"She was scared.....nightmare" sobs Nikki "Sorry"
"No....No .....I am sorry...she just misses her mother......Nikki I should not have jumped at you like this .....am really sorry.....please stop crying." He takes her face in his hands and wipes her tears. Sobs keep escaping her and tears keep flowing as if a dam burst inside her.
"Sorry Nikki....stop crying Jaan" he speaks soothingly.
"I...I am trying.....they keep flowing......y...you get s...so mad at m....me'I did not do anything....you never L...listen" she speaks between her tears.
"I know....I shouldn't have reacted like this.....Nikki please jaan, please chup" he hands her his handkerchief. In a few minutes Nikki controls herself and looks at Abhimanyu with red eyes and nose. Unable to control himself he tweaks her nose and surprise floods Nikki's eyes. Suddenly awkwardness takes over her. "You ....why are you on the floor.....please sit on the chair" she tell him.
"Me and you can look eye to eye now Nikki......we are the same height." He jokes. A smile escapes Nikki and she hits his shoulder. "Ouch" he rubs his shoulder. Nikki raises worried eyes to his face "Is it still paining? Abhi show me" she starts touching his shoulder.
"I am fine Nikki.....you just hit a little too hard.....Nikki pehlwan you don't know your own strength" he jokes.
"Very funny.....show me Abhi please.....I want to see as a doctor" she orders him.
"As a Doctor hmmm.....are you sure......your intentions are nice?" he flirts to get her off his case.
"Abhi....stop.....let me see.....she sits on her knees too and asks him to unbutton his shirt so she can take a look at his shoulder.
"Maa" wails Tia sobbing hard suddenly. Abhi and Nikki look at each other and rush to her side. Abhi sits beside Tia and soothes her. She stops and cries, stops and cries continuously asking for her mother.
"She is never like this .....I don't know why today she is being so cranky?" Abhimanyu shares with Nikki.
Nikki's hand shoots out to Tia's forehead but stops short of touching her. She looks into Abhimanyu's eyes and he takes her hand and places it on Tia's forehead. She motions for him to get up and takes his place. "Tia baby.....it's ok.....I am here" she soothes her
"Call her Tiu bachha.....Aarti used to call her that" he supplies.
"Tiu bachha.....it's Ok.....go to sleep baby.....I am here" she soothes and in a few minutes Tia goes back to sleep.
"These nightmare?" she questions Abhi
"I thought they were gone.....this is very rare Nikki.....maybe it's just adjustment problem .....she will be fine......thanks a lot." He whispers
"She dreams about the accident.....poor baby.....losing both mummy and daddy.....must have been difficult for her" Nikki sympathizes.
"Dr. Nikita Malhotra, I never told you anything about the accident. How do you know this?" asks Abhimanyu in a dangerously calm tone.
"I...I.....Abhi...I" she stumbles at a loss for words.
"I cannot believe you.....Nikita.....have you ever heard of privacy? You went through my files? Get out of here before I really do something I'll regret" he points towards the door.