Shivaay stood at the bottom of the stairs with Om and Shivani by his side. I felt Nia squeeze my hand lightly. We both were not talking especially after she yelled at me for not telling Shivaay. I was wearing the red lehenga that I had bought. Nia had made me wear the bridal bangles. This was usually done by the mother’s brother but she was the closest I had to family, so she did it in instead. Shivaay was staring at me almost spellbound. “You were saying he hated you.” Nia whispered.
“There is a difference between desire and love or even like for that matter.” I hissed.
She shook her head as she adjusted my dupatta.
“You…you look nice.” he said. Nia smirked at me. “You didn’t need to dress up on my account.”
For him? I did it for myself. “Don’t flatter yourself, Mr. Oberoi. I didn’t do it to impress you. I did it for me.” I said angrily, and then walked past him. Nia sighed as she followed me.
I heard Om scoff. “Shivaay, you seriously thought she would dress up for you. Probably for your money.” I felt Nia’s hand tighten on my wrist.
As I sat in front of the fire with Shivaay by my side, I remembered playing with my sister.
“Ri, you know my prince will have green eyes like Michael from our class.”
We both were lying down on our half broken bed at our latest foster home. We were 9.
“Ooooh, Anika has a crush on Michael.” She laughed.
Those were the days when she used to be more of a sister.
“Shut up, Ri.” I hit her with the pillow.
“Well Anika, I will marry the richest man in the globe.”
“Life is too cruel. If we cease to believe in true love, why would we want to live?” I had argued.
She had just turned to the other side, betting me that I would marry someone who had loads of money and no love for me.
She had been right. Shivaay did not have an ounce of love for me. I blankly watched the ritual go by.
I blinked back my tears.
Shivaay passed me the marriage register, which I signed.
For better or worse I was now married to Shivaay Singh Oberoi.
The reception was little more than a brief lunch with some of Shivaay’s colleagues and brother at a private function centre. Nia had been called to the school for an emergency. After the ceremony, I had changed into a sari that Nia had given me as a wedding gift. I looked elegant in it. It was a red and white mix. I looked into the mirror in the silence of my room. I touched the mangalsutr and sindoor that adorned my partition. I was now a married woman. A day I had dreamed that even Ri would be at.
I was walking away from all the noise after talking to one of Shivaay’s colleagues when I felt him. The next second, he pulled me to the side.
“What are you doing?” My voice came out chocked.
Without uttering a word, he started tracing a finger along the neckline of my blouse. My breath hitched. He reached around my neck
I was so lost in his touch that I did not realise he had left me till I heard a snigger.
I opened my eyes, startled and dazed, to find Shivaay and Om smirking at me. “Don’t get wrong ideas, Mrs. Anika Shivaay Singh Oberoi. I have no interest in touching you.” He said coolly before walking away with his brother, who was still snickering.
I watched them leave. I could feel tears gathering at the bottom of my eyes. Anika, why do you always want what you can never have? What is wrong with you? What quirk in your personality makes you ache for his desire, his approval, for a smile of affection or even a kind word?
I stood around till Shivaay said that it was time to go. I followed him to the car. Om was driving and Shivaay sat with him. Shivani and I sat at the back.
I watched her sleep at the back. She looked like an angel and nothing like the sly vixen, she actually is.
“Shivaay, what are you going to tell Tia?” Om hissed.
I looked at him. What would I tell Tia? That I married my brother’s ex-mistress?
“Papa!” Shivani squealed from the back. I slowly took her forward. She played with my shirt button.
As soon as we drove into the mansion, Om took off to the house. I took Shivani inside, Anika can take her own sweet time.
I took Shivani to her nursery. She looked at me with tired eyes.
“Okay Princess, I know you are tired. We will go to sleep after I help you change.”
Asha came into the room.
“Shivaay Saheb, shall I do it?” She asked.
I nodded. “Okay Asha. I will go get Anika.”
I went to the car. Anika was still fast asleep.
“Anika!” I shook her. She got up with a start. “Annie!” She shouted. Her eyes widened when she saw me.
I nodded. “Yeah. We reached home.”
She moved her head to look at the house. “Oh!” She slowly got out of the car and moved past me to walk to the house.
“Anika…” She did not stop. How dare she?
“I have things I wish to discuss with you.” I said in my stern voice that I used with my business partners.
She paused on the 2nd last stair.
“W-what sort of things?”
“Ground rules, that sort of thing. I do not want you under any delusion as to our wedding.”
“I’m not sure what you mean by that.” She said facing away from me.
“Living in the same house will mean we will, by necessity, be sharing a certain level of intimacy. I would not want you to get the wrong idea.”
She turned around and her expression despite the darkness told me that it was something that was going to irk me. “Who exactly are you reminding of the terms of our agreement, you or me?”
I had to clench my fists to prevent myself from murdering my wife on our first night.
“From what my brother told me, it appears you do not always play by the rules. It would do you good to remind yourself of them just in case you are tempted to act outside the boundaries I have laid down.” I snapped.
“While we’re speaking of breaking the rules, I thought your touch was a little inappropriate at the reception.” she put in crisply.
How dare she? I had seen all my sleazy partner watching her like she was for sale or something. Did she not see that? “There will be time when we will be required to keep up this charade.”
“What do you mean?” She snapped.
“We will have functions to attend occasionally and as my wife you will be expected to act in a certain way towards me.” I gave an excuse as I had no intention of taking her.
“You want me to do the whole obedient wife act.” Her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“All I am asking is for you to show some level of maturity when we are in the company of others. Apart from my staff and of course my family, everyone else assumes this is a normal marriage.”
“I’ll try my best not to bring shame to your family name.” she said and nothing about her tone gave me a smooth feeling. She turned and walked through the door.
Suddenly, Asha came running out. “Saheb, you have to come and see this.” She looked tensed and angry.
I quickly followed. She ran into Shivani’s nursery. Shivani was lying there sleeping.
“See Saheb.” She pointed some faded bruises on her body. Someone had hurt her.
“Who did this?” I growled at Asha. She took a few steps back.
Only one person could have done it. I strode to her room.
I had changed into a simple churidar.
My door slammed open. He stood there. His face was dark with anger. I quickly cut the call.
“How dare you?” He grabbed my arms tightly. I knew they would leave bruises.
“Ahhh….Shivaay, it hurts.” I tried to pull myself away from him. He held tighter.
“You should have thought about pain when you hurt my niece.” He growled.
Then suddenly I remembered the bruises. My eyes went wide. Then I looked at the ground. Time to tell next lie.
“I didn’t do it. I had left her with my friend. She did it.” He pushed me away. He looked angry but shocked.
I nodded. “Yes, Shivaay….my friend hurt her. I had to go out to get something.”
He hissed. “Was she like you?” He asked.
I shook my head. “No, I thought she was a good woman but she hurt her so I threw her out, that was why you met me in the house, if not I would have been at work. She would have been there.” The storm in his eyes cleared.
I had kind of told home the truth. Apart from the fact that my friend is my sister and his niece’s mother.
“Oh, I am so sorry Anika. Would you like to have something to drink?” He looked guilty. So I nodded.
He looked shocked. “No alcohol?”
“I don’t drink.” I felt like laughing Annie and no drinking. The irony.
He gave me a mocking glance as he handed her a glass of sparkling mineral water.
“A reformed drinker?” he observed. “How very commendable of you.”
I prayed to Ganesh ji that he would give me the guts to tell the truth. But unfortunately he was solving someone else’s problem and did not hear mine. Zoya wished she had the courage to tell the truth.
“There are a lot of things I have changed in my life lately.” I lied.
He took a leisurely sip of his drink before responding. “I wonder if Rudra’s rejection and accident has made some sort of impact on you to bring about these changes?”
If only he knew how it had impacted me! I had become a totally different person.
“Do you miss him as a person?” He asked in a wounded tone.
I stared into the contents of my glass, wondering how Annie would respond. She would have been deeply affected once upon a time. But now, nothing hurt her. She had built an iron wall around herself. I knew Rudra’s rejection had hurt her but.
“I try not to think about it.” she said.
“No, of course not” he said. “If you thought about it you would have to take some responsibility for it, would you not?” He said snidely.
I kept my eyes down. I knew I was not ready to face the venom and insults that his held. “I did not have anything to do with your brother’s accident.”
I walked towards my room quickly. I heard the sharp chink as he set it down harshly. I quickened my steps. I knew he would come after me. I heard him take heavy but quick steps towards me.
“Do you think by saying that enough times it will change what you did?” he growled.
I wanted to tell Shivaay so much that it burnt my heart. But every time, I opened my mouth, my little girl who was sleeping in the next room came into my mind.
“You have guilt written all over you.” he said. “I can barely look at you without thinking of my brother’s agonising minutes trapped in that car while he was fighting life and death.”
I felt sick. My sister had torn a proud brother and dragged him through the mud. I knew he was still grieving and was entitled to feel the whole spectrum of human emotions, including anger, but it didn’t help to have it directed solely at me. I didn’t have a stone heart to deal with such heavy criticism.
“Where do you think you are going?” he demanded as grabbed my arms in his strong fingers, his eyes glittering with fury as they stared into mine.
“You think you can get off that easily? I will not let you escape unscathed. I am going to do everything in my power to make you pay for the destruction you have brought to my family.” he snarled down at me, his fingers tightening cruelly.
I did my best to appear unfazed by his anger but I knew I was failing miserably. I could feel fear encase my heart.
“Are you trying to frighten me?” I said, giving him her best fake smile. “All the best, I can hardly wait to see what all you have planned.”
As soon as the words were out of her mouth she regretted saying it. I knew I had just squeezed the devil’s heart. He pulled me against him, his mouth crashing down on mine.
I was surprised. I tried to push him away with my hands but felt imprisoned by his hold.
He nipped my lips letting it bleed. I felt my legs begin to buckle beneath me and the hands that had pushed him away began curling into the fabric of his T-shirt to keep myself upright.
His dark eyes glittered dangerously as he wiped the back of his hand over his mouth in an action, I knew was to inflict shame and embarrassment.
I looked up, trying desperately to keep my emotions at bay.
Shivaay POV I had kissed her. Shivaay, what were you thinking? She tasted like strawberries. Seriously that is what you were thinking.
“Forgive me.” I said dryly. “I did not intend to go so far.”
‘How far did you intend to go?’ She asked and I noticed a hurt tone in her voice. Why would she be hurt? She did this sort of things with men all the time. Shivaay, you imagined it.
My mouth hardened. “I have no intention of doubling your allowance. I told you before our marriage will not be consummated.”
She looked down and walked towards the nursery door. How dare she just walk away? I slammed the half open door shut.
I could feel her heaving beneath me. She kept her gaze on the door.
“Let me go, Shivaay. I want to check on Shivani.” To my glee, she sounded defeated, nothing like her usual defiant tone. I had reigned the wild animal. Well done Shivaay.
I slowly turned her around. I wanted to see the face of my fallen enemy. She looked harassed like a deer caught in the headlights. I slowly lifted her face towards mine.
“Don’t make me hate you.” She said in a whisper.
She sounded so pained that somehow the joy I felt was diminished. I held her gaze while I could and then I dropped my hand to my side and turned to go to my room.
Suddenly, I remembered something. I had forgotten to give her her due. I removed the paper from my pocket.
She took it quickly, unfolding the paper. I knew what she would find, so I walked away.
I had transferred it as soon as the marriage got over.
It was as I closed my door that I realised something.
I had hope.
Hope that she would refuse it.
But she did not.
Author’s Note: So guys, this is going to be my last update for the next 2 weeks till Feb 27th. I have 1 video recording, 1 presentation at my old school, 4 projects and 2 exams next week and will be super busy to focus on anything but that. 3 of them are group projects and I cannot let my group members down. So sorry 🙂 I promise I will update on Feb 27th in the morning. Pakka. Pinky Promise.
Oh bete ki. My group members are calling.
Bye Bye. Please don’t throw brickbats for the two weeks disappearance. In the mean time, please review. 🙂