Anika took a leave from work the following day. After all she had to sort out childcare arrangements. Her sister had ditched her. The fees at the centre were just too high. But she had little choice, she had to go back to work especially if she needed to support her niece.
The next day went by without any calls from Shivaay. At times, Anika glanced at the door for the fear that he would just storm in again. Then she tried to convince herself that it was a dream. But the following day a letter came to her door. She should have called it a parcel rather. The document had the date of the wedding printed as 15th May.
My legs buckled. Had he come to know somehow that it was my birthday. Did he think that it was some sort of joke to shackle me down on my birthday.
I could also think of no way out, if I wanted to keep Shivani, I had no other choice but pray to Ganesh ji and deceive him. Bappa please help me.
Being Annie for months or maybe even years terrified me. It was so incredible how just 5 simple words stood between her and her freedom.
I am not Shivani’s mother.
And that would be it.
But it would also take away a piece of her heart, her niece. In no way, would she be free? She would be trapped pinning away for her little girl.
As I had expected Annie hadn’t called. I had tried calling but every time the stupid lady on the line would give me the automated message that the phone was probably switched off.
When I heard Shivani’s cry, I tossed the letter onto the sofa and rushed to Shivani. Carrying my baby girl, I came into the living room when the phone rang.
“Anika.” I should have guessed it would be him. “It’s Shivaay.”
I stiffened. Shivani squirmed in my arms. “Yes.”
“Did you get my letter?” He sounded like he was scolding me.
“Hmmm….let me see.” I walked around the room just to irritate him. “Hmmmm…..Shivi baby do you see any paper?” Shivani came me a wide toothless smile. “Oh there it is. It’s the prenup.”
He breathed in. “Did you think that I would marry you without protecting myself?”
It hurt a bit. I had never dreamed that I would have to sign a prenup. I felt Annie seep back into my body.
“Depends on what protection you are talking about, Mr. Oberoi.” I purred into the receiver.
He gave an annoyed sigh. “I am dealing with you like a business deal. A deal to give my niece a home and luxury she should receive as an Oberoi. And don’t you ever try to dupe me?”
I felt a shiver down my neck. I was already duping him. My grave had been already dug.
“And considering that we are getting married in a matter of days, I think it is inappropriate that you call me by my surname.”
Suddenly, someone spoke from behind him.
“Kyun kya hua?” He asked.
“Excuse me?” I asked. The line was silent.
Shivaay cleared his throat. “Oh sorry Anika. My PA had a doubt.”
“So you speak Hindi?” I asked.
I knew he would be smirking now. “Yup, along with other languages. What about you?”
I was about to say that I spoke 5 languages when I remembered that Annie only knew English. And I did not know whether she had spoken to Rudra. “Me?” I snorted. Thinking of the irony of my words. “Why anyone would want to talk in anything but English is beyond me. I think that learning languages is a waste of time and resources.”
He snorted. “Anika, I think a woman like you has all the time in the world.”
Hmph….like I even had 5 minutes for myself with both my pre-school work and my part time work as an artist. And now Shivani had become a major responsibility. But I knew that my life would be a lot easier if I let him think I was an airhead with nothing but a body.
“I have made an appointment with my lawyer to meet at my office for us to sign the prenup. You will also need to bring your birth certificate. Can you come by 9 tomorrow?” He asked.
My heart started beating that I had a fear it would leap out of my chest. Pretending to be Annie with Shivaay was easy. But in front of law, that was a whole new story. What if she was sent to prison for fraud? She would loose Shivani. At least, she would be signing as Anika Raichand and not forging Annie’s signature.
“Anika?” Came his deep voice yanking me rudely from my horrible thoughts.
“Sorry, I was adjusting Shivi.” I adjusted my hands. I rocked her slightly.
“You are holding her?”
Shivani gave a happy gurgle as though she was trying to reply to her uncle.
“Yes.” I smiled at my baby girl. “She woke up when you called.”
“How is she?” He sounded like all the young fathers who brought their kids for their first day of school and called in the afternoon.
“She is fine.” She pulled my hair with her small hands. “Ouch!”
“Are you okay?” Came his prompt question.
I smiled. “Oh nothing. Just our niece trying to make me bald.” I giggled. Then I paled. I had just blurted out the truth. I held my breath.
“Do you enjoy being a mother?” Came his question.
“Of course I do.” I replied without a doubt. I started breathing again. He did not hear me. Thank god.
There was silence.
Anika was so complicated. Rudra had told me that she was an airhead and very self-centered. But she seemed to love Shivani unconditionally. Everyone says that motherhood changes a woman but can motherhood change someone so much in 5 days. I could hear her breathing.
“You did not strike me as the maternal type.” I knew I sounded nasty but I remembered how much she was gaining so much by just being a mother while my badima had lost her motherhood to her.
“What do I strike to you as, Shivaay?” She purred through the phone.
I ignored her remark. “I will pick you at 8 tomorrow.”
She said nothing. “Any problem?”
“Do you have a baby seat in the car?” She asked.
Baby seat? I frowned. I hadn’t thought of that.
“I will have one fitted.”
“I can catch a bus. Where is your office?”
Hmph an Oberoi in a public bus. No way. “I will pick you up. No arguments.”
I heard her huff. I had to bite back a grin.
“I won’t be coming if you’re car is not safe for my baby.”
Ugh…..this girl will be the end of me. “I will have it done by tomorrow, all right.”
“Good.” I knew she would ne having a cheeky smile now. “Can I trust you?”
I closed my eyes and counted to ten. The Oberois can’t afford to have a son in the hospital with a vein burst. Calm down Shivaay. Calm down. This is for your niece no one else.
My eyes sprang open. She sounded so s*xy when she said his name. It felt like someone had run a feather over his neck.
“Yes…you can trust me.” I told her with the best even tone. I could muster.
“Shivi not again.” She whined while I could hear the baby giggling. “Okay Shivaay, I have to go change Shivani. See you tomorrow.” She cut the call.
Maybe I should make a visit to see my niece. Yes, that is what I should do. Let me finish this work.
I looked down at the files piled in front of me. I might be worried about Rudra but work also was important.
At around 12, I stepped out of hospital, I had checked on Rudra. He had not improved. But at least it had not gotten worse.
I know….Mom would kill me if she knew I was at a girl’s house practically in the middle of the night. But I have to see my niece. I had a gut feeling something was wrong. When I got of the car, I could hear a child crying. I quickly went up the stairs. I knocked at her door. The crying had got louder.
The woman who opened the door was not the one who had acted all b*t*hy with me yesterday. She was wearing sweatpants and her hair was up in a messy bun. She had huge dark circles. She was not even looking at me.
“Sorry Aunty, Shivi is not feeling well.” She said while she tried to stop my niece from crying.
“Anika?” I said. She spun around.
“You? What are you doing here?” She had a whole myriad of expressions ranging from anger to annoyed.
I stepped in. “Is she sick?”
She looked exhausted. “I don’t know. She has been like this from afternoon.”
What? Why did she not take her to the doctor?
I slowly took Shivani into my hands. She plopped down on the sofa. She had her head buried in her hands.
I placed my hand on her head. “She is warm.”
A muffled voice came. “I know. But I don’t know what to do?”
“Maybe she needs to see a doctor.” I suggested. “Who do you see usually?”
She lifted her eyes wide with confusion.
“What you did not take her to any doctor?” I accused her.
What sort of a mother was she?
I let out a hiss in fury. “This is a small child. She is supposed to have regular vaccinations.” I yelled.
Then she had the audacity to say. “Well, she is healthy.” She winced when Shivani let out a howl in misery.
“Oh really.” I raised my eyebrow.
“Maybe she is teething?’ She suggested. She was biting her lip. She looked tensed.
“She is only 4 months Anika. It is took early.” I shouted
“I don’t know. I’ve never…..” She trailed off.
“I have never…” I inquired. She paled. She started glancing around.
“My mother never taught me these things.” She finally completed her sentence.
Hmph…probably the mother was also like her. “Guess your mother was like you. Too busy enticing men.”
She went red. “Don’t you dare say anything about my mother. She was a very honourable woman.”
I nodded. “Yeah…Yeah.”
She came towards me. “Give me Shivani and get out.” She shouted. Shivani curled towards me.
I slowly rubbed her back. “Don’t worry Princess. Shivaay Chachu is here.”
Suddenly, Anika’s eyes went wide. “Oh shit. I gave her strawberries.”
What strawberries? She did not say anything and ran into the house. She came out within minutes with some medicine.
“What is this Anika?”
Anika did not even look at me. “Shivi, I am so sorry. Maasi forgot. I am so sorry.”
She took the medicine near Shivani’s mouth. She gave Shivani the medicine.
After a few minutes, Shivani slept off in my arms. Anika sat down on to the floor.
“What the hell was that?” I boomed.
Anika closed her eyes. “She is allergic to strawberries. She has reactions.” She replied.
I kept Shivani in the cradle and glided to her side.
“What? And you did not realise it till now.”
Anika looked at me and glared. Her eyes were filled with tears. “No. I did not. I only remembered when I saw the strawberries on the cover of the packet.” She said pointing at a packet in the dustbin.
She started crying hysterically. I bent down to her side.
“Shivaay, I almost killed her. I killed my baby girl.”
I wanted to tell her that it was her fault but instead I hugged her and rubbed her back. “It’s okay. It happens sometimes Anika. It’s okay.”
Anika got up. “I am fine now, Shivaay you can leave. See you today at 8:30.”
She guided me through the door and closed the door.
Then suddenly something came up in my mind.
“Had she said Maasi?”
Getting ready for the meeting today was going to be so hard.
“Shivi, what is Maasi….i mean Mama going to wear?” Shivani gurgled. “Oh don’t laugh at me you little vampire.” I giggled.
I scavenged through Annie’s clothes. None of my clothes would work. I was a school teacher. I finally took a emerald green dress. At least it covered everything on the front. I wore it quickly, Shivaay would reach any time soon. As soon as I had my hair clipped, there was a knock on the door.
“Coming.” I shouted.
I carried Shivani to the living room. When I opened the door, I saw Shivaay looking at me. He did not look pleased.
“You couldn’t have worn anything shorter.” He muttered. I grimaced. Oh Shivaay, it could have been much more worse.
I picked up Shivani’s changing bag and walked with him to the car. He took it from my hand.
“Hold her properly. I will hold the bag.” He said and stalked off to his car.
“Shivi, your chachu is a real akdu na.” Shivani gave me a toothless smile.
The trip to Shivaay’s office was a silent one and I was grateful. Shivani was sleeping in the baby seat in the back. Shivaay was focused on the road.
I inspected my chewed nails. What had he told his lawyer about his sudden marriage? Was I supposed to pretend like I was in love with him? Or did the lawyer know that he was marrying the woman he hated the most for his niece?
It pained me to think that the man sitting next to me probably hated me enough to burn me alive.
A small voice spoke in my mind. Anika, just 5 words and you will be free.
Sure, he would immediately remove Shivani from my custody but maybe I could negotiate. Aunts have the same rights as uncles, right? But do those apply if the mom is a disgusting woman. Would they consider my character to be similar to hers like he had accused mother?
I glanced at him from the corner of my eye but his head was turned outside to the security, his hand reaching out to sipe his entry card.
When the car moved forward, I closed my eyes. I did not want him to see the guilt in my eyes.
Once we parked, I quickly stepped out of the car. I tried to take Shivani out of the car seat but my hands were fumbling over the buckle. Finally Shivaay opened the other door and he took Shivani out. He passed her to me. When his hand brushed mine while he gave me Shivani, he looked at me with dislike.
Once I had Shivani comfortably placed in my arms, he kept his hand around my waste. I took a step away from him.
“I would advise against distaste for my touch when we are with my lawyer.” He snapped. “He believes that this is a normal marriage and i would prefer him to think the same.”
I felt anger rush through me. “It is not everyday that someone forces you to marry them.”
He activated the central locking and alarm system on his car without saying anything. Was he ignoring me? “You are being paid almost 3 times of your usual pay as someone’s partner.
“Isn’t the fact that we are coming to sign a prenup going to make him suspicious?” I asked.
He smirked. “Prenups are quite common today. And Have shareholders and investors that I need to protect, not to mention my family. I will not stand and watch a gold-digger like you to take half of everything if the marriage were to end.”
I felt my eyes prick. No Anika, you can’t cry Annie would never do that. He is right if it was Annie, she would have run away with all the money. But somewhere deep in my heart, I wished he could see that I was not a person who was opportunistic money-grabbing bed-hopping pleasure seeker, but a young woman who cared deeply for her tiny niece, so deeply, in fact, that she was prepared to marry a complete stranger.
I kept my mouth shut and followed him to the lift. Once we got in I tried to collect my thoughts.
So far I had been lucky, he had not asked for Shivani’s birth certificate but when he did, what would I do? What if someone saw the certificate and realised that I was not her mother? Suddenly, the lift felt too small. My mind was a mess. What about when we had to go to India to see his family? Would it be legal for me to take Shivani without written authorisation?
Suddenly I felt his eyes on me. I quickly covered my fear by putting on a smile.
“What are you smirking at?” He asked with a nasty look. “How you are going to spend your money?”
“That depends on how much you will give.” I snapped back.
He rolled his eyes and stabbed level 22 again like he was trying to will the lift to hurry up.
“We are not married yet, don’t count your chicks before they hatch.” He growled.
At that moment the lift doors opened and I sighed in relief. But at the same time, it gave me a sort of rush of joy to know that I had managed to tick him off.
I have never gotten under anyone’s skin. That had always been Annie’s skin. Yet the thought of Shivaay Singh Oberoi fighting an unwilling attraction to her was both strangely appealing and terrifying. I had seen the way he looked at her when he thought I was looking somewhere else.
My reaction confused me. I was supposed to hate him for what he was doing but somehow it wasn’t working. Every time I felt his gaze, I felt heat rush into my body. That tried accidental brush of our hands felt like a 440 volt shock(Like the song 😛 )
Anika you have to take better control, I scolded myself. To fall in love with him was asking for the sort of trouble I can do well without, considering the mess I was already in.
Author’s Note: Sorry guys for not updating sooner. Also, I am sorry about my other ff, I am actually kind of stuck. My thoughts regarding that have come to a stop. So I will continue now only when I get an idea.
Anyways hope you all liked this chapter. Please review.