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Om stood in front of the mirror buttoning his light blue cotton shirt when he noticed Aashi step out of the washroom fully dressed for work. It had been three years since he had first possessed her fully in every sense of the word. And yet, he still gazed at her randomly with his heart and gut stirring with longing. He observed her slightly fuller figure in her soft peach shift dress, her chestnut brown hair sashaying about her waist and arms as she walked around the room briskly tidying up and gathering up her stuff to go to work. Om breathed in deeply as a smile curved his lips at their corners.
“Ready?” he asked her still following her movements.
” Yes. Two client meetings today. You are working from home right?” she replied absent-mindedly.
“Yes. Except to go look at Prinku’s boutique site.”
“With bhaiya. Yes. I remember. Take pictures. Then I’ll visit with Priyanka and bhaiya to see what we want to do with the place. I want it to look spectacular and like none other when it opens.” she said fervently. “Designs as beautiful as hers deserve a home to match after all!”
Om felt his heart swell a little as he grabbed her and held her close to his chest. “Stop! You are hurting my eyes.” he said fighting back his smile.
” What?!! I am…Sorry, what!?” she said very confused at his weird accusation.
“One, you look good enough to eat in that peach color and two, you are flitting about like a busy bunny. My eyes hurt from following you around. So I need you to be still for a few seconds.!”
Aashi looked at him with a twinkle in her eyes that was the one shared physical attribute between her and Shikhar, equally attractive and disarming in both siblings. “I beg your pardon for hurting your poor eyes. How many seconds are we looking at roughly? I do have to eat before I go although the weighing scale advises against it.”
“Pay no attention to that wretched fellow.” Om said comically. “Trust the very happy hands of your husband.” he said running his hand appreciatively all over her back.
” Ok. Now can we leave?” she asked although her own arms were still wrapped around him.
“Yes.” Om said planting a short, hard kiss on her lips. ” You will want to do that later but won’t be able to so I am relieving you of the agony in advance.”
Laughing together, they walked towards the door when they heard loud thumping sound from outside.
Aashi laughed. “I think I know who that is” she said as she opened the door.
“Aachi. Lessgo daaun.” said the blue eyed pixie dressed in an adorable sea-green dress, her brown curls hanging loose as usual but neat for now.
“She wants to go downstairs with you Aashi.” said Anika standing a few feet away, dressed in a light green suit, ready to go to her restaurant. “She is ready for all the adventures that await her. Every morning she expects Saahil to be there as she forgets that he must go to school before she wakes up. Then we have to console her for her tragic loss. Then she wants Oody, or O, or Aachi, or Boooaaa to distract her from the boring old faces of her parents.” Anika said with her exaggerated humor. All the while Anya looked at her mother with the guilty expression of an accused. Om laughed looking at the expression on her face and picked her up.
“Lessgo down princess.” he said kissing her plump cheek as she clung to him. The ladies went ahead while Om along with Anya joined Shivaay who had just stepped out of his room.
“Lessgo daaun daddy.” Anya repeated wobbling her head sideways and expressively waving her chubby.
Shivaay laughed looking at Om.” So it has been established for this morning that we are indeed going down I guess.”
Om laughed as they walked together. “Certainly. What would we do without the decisive authority of Anya Singh Oberoi.”
Near the living room entrance door, Priyanka looked mortified. “I am so sorry” she cried rubbing her nose which looked pink and sore after having slammed in Shikhar’s chest. Shikhar held her cautiously ensuring she was stable and peered curiously at her nose.
“Are you ok? Your nose doesn’t seem to be. Does it hurt?”
” A little. Not a big deal. I am fine.” Priyanka said nervously as she wondered for how long he was going to continue to grip her by her arms. He seemed perfectly calm but her nerves were all over the place at such proximity to him.
“Well, your things are scattered. I’ll help you.” Shikhar said letting go of her.
“It’s ok. I’ll manage.” Priyanka mumbled bending to pick up her papers, but Shikhar helped her anyway.
“What happened?” Aashi asked surprised as she came downstairs and saw Priyanka and Shikhar crawling about gathering paper-sheets from the floor.
” Bhaiya? When did you come?” she asked surprised.
Shikhar saw Aashi and smiled at her. He gathered up the last sheet and handed it to Priyanka. Then he went and hugged Aashi. ” Om didn’t tell you? He texted me last night to come for breakfast. I have some time in the morning. ” Then he saw Shivaay and Om come downstairs with Anya.
“Actually I was having withdrawal symptoms from not seeing the prettiest girl in the world.” he said as he went to meet Anya.
Having seen another face Anya immediately changed party. ” Ok O.” she said nodding at Om and spread her hand out towards Shikhar.
Shikhar took her from Om. ” How are you Anya dear?” he asked Anya earnestly.
“Ok. Deeyar.” Anya replied clutching his shoulder with her right hand as she smiled brightly at him.
Everyone chuckled at her reply. The kid had a knack for the wittiest responses. Half of it was inherited from Anika and the other half was learned from spending a lot of time with Saahil and Rudra playing all sorts of wacky games.
“God those eyes!” Shikhar said looking at her with adoration.
“Priyanka, you alright?” Aashi asked directing her attention to a very flustered Priyanka.
” Yes bhabhi. I wasn’t looking on my way out and crashed into…him. I’ll leave. It’s the last day of my internship. I have to wrap up and then go to see the boutique site ”
“Ok.” Aashi said ensuring Priyanka looked ok. ” Your boutique site is ten minutes from my office. Why don’t you come there after work. You can go to the site with bhaiya and then come back home with Om.” Aashi said thoughtfully.
” Of course.” Shikhar said hastily glancing at Priyanka while Anya patted his head. “That sounds like a good plan. I’ll be in office all afternoon. I only have conference calls. No on-site visits.”
Priyanka looked from Aashi to Shikhar, then back to Aashi. ” Ok. I’ll be there around three then.” she said and was about to turn around to leave when Anya, said,
” Byee Boooaaa” throwing a flying kiss at Priyanka.
“Bye Anya.” Priyanka said smiling at her as Shikhar gazed back at her with a controlled expression.
They strolled towards the dining room with Shikhar and Shivaay talking amidst Anya’s babble.
“Were you happy to see your brother this morning?” Om asked Aashi in a low voice.
“Of course.” Aashi replied bewildered.
” See, I knew you would be and then would like to show me your appreciation generously, and wouldn’t be able to properly, so I took care of that earlier in our room.”
“You are the epitome of thoughtfulness and far-sightedness.” Aashi said tongue-in-cheek as she walked swiftly to go and join Anika.
As Soumya finished the last bit of her nightly routine she reflected back on her day. She had submitted the last assignment for the term and had met with her adviser. Her adviser had informed her that the last course she needed to graduate was being offered in a four week format, the very next term that started in a week. This meant that she would be able to graduate in another month and a half. In addition to this good news, she had received a job offer from a company in Mumbai, to which she had applied a couple of months ago. Soumya had called her mom to share the news and Ranjana had been overwhelmed with happiness. Now as Soumya lay in her bed ready to sleep she thought over everything that was happening and was about to happen.
“In another couple of months, I’ll be back home. What does that mean to me? With Mom or at Oberoi Mansion? How can I assume that I will go back to living there? No. I should look for an accommodation before I start my job. But either way, back home sounds so good. What will he think when he sees me? How will he be? How changed? I should share my news with him. I promised friendship and I must honor it.” She thought as she picked up her phone and typed a message informing him about her graduation from her master’s program and the job offer. “Looking forward to seeing everyone again.” she added at the end of the message before sending it.
Rudra was coming down the staircase when he heard the notification from his phone. He checked his messages and read the one sent by Soumya. Each word led to a soaring of his spirits that would have been touching the ceiling had it been a balloon. He sent back a big smiley followed by ” I am thrilled for you and us. All of us I mean.” He sent the message with a wicked smile playing on his lips as myriads of plans started to form in his head.
He walked into the dining room with a spring in his walk and smile on his face.
“Good morning everyone! Hi Shikhar bhaiya.” he said noticing him sitting next to Om.Then he turned to find Anya sitting in a high chair between Anika and Jhanvi picking pieces of grapes from a plate in front of her. “Hi Angel” he said going over to kiss her.
” Hi Chachoo.” Anya said smiling brightly at Rudra.
Everyone gasped at that. “Did you just say Chachu Anya?! ” Anika said gleefully. “Thank you God for making my child finally listen to me.” she said happily.
Rudra laughed pulling out an empty chair next to Jhanvi.
” I love you Angel.” he said winking at Anya.
“Laav you Oody.” Anya said winking back with much effort, as everyone burst out laughing and Anika slapped her palm to her forehead.
Hi Everybody! Thanks for reading. Hopefully this episode will bring some smiles and give you some joy for some time. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Please comment if you can.?