We are almost at the end of the story now. Just the epilogue left after this. Thanks for all your support through this journey – Azure
Ragini brushed the hair off his forehead, as he was lying the the hospital bed, as she waited for him to regain consciousness. When he made a slight move, she became alert and moved towards him. He slowly opened his eyes after what felt like long minutes. Ragini was waiting holding her breath, as he did.
He looked at her for a second before saying “Hey” in a raspy voice.
She responded with a soft “Hey” herself. She was let out a shuddered breath, as she moved closer to him.
She was aware that his throat must be dry. He would need some water and she would rush to get it. She also knew she needed to fetch the doctor, but for a minute, just one minute, she wanted to look into his eyes and drown away the images of the past day when Ranveer rushed him to the hospital unconscious and injured.
“Missed me so much” Sanskar said, trying to joke
“You are an idiot!” Ragini told him plainly, not really feeling the strength to find her anger just then
She tried to pull her hand away from his, to get him some water, but he held it in his, wrapped his fingers around her palm.
“Don’t go” he told her, his voice still hoarse
“I was just going to get you some water” Ragini explained, signaling the bottle of water and glass that was on a side table.
“Are you mad at me?” he asked, still not letting go of her hand
“Not yet. But I will be, eventually” she told him. He raised his eyebrows at her comment “Right now I am too exhausted worrying about you, praying that you would be okay, feeling relieved that you were not going to be in danger, to get around to being angry. But I will. I am just waiting for you to get completely well.” she explained, even as her voice cracked a bit
“I am not going to be forgiven easily, am I?” he asked with a soft smile, running his thumb over the back of her hand.
Ragini shook her head. Sanskar smiled looking at her childlike expression.
“What am I going to have to do to get your forgiveness?” he asked
“I haven’t gotten around to thinking about that yet, but you can bet it will be a long list considering the stunt that you pulled” she told him, a bit of the annoyance making its way through now, now that he was okay.
“I didn’t realize I had such high maintenance wife” he said with a bright smile, which stood out considering how pale he looked just then. Some of the bruises on his face had turned purple now and his chest was completely bandaged to restrict his movement, and help him in healing. But the reality was that he was no real medicine to help him heal faster, it was going to be a slow process over next 6 weeks at least, if what the doctor has said was true.
“Don’t try to talk much” Ragini told him “It might hurt your ribs and your mouth must be parched. Let me get you some water” she told him.
Sanskar nodded gently and let go of her hand. She was back in her caring and worrying mode. He liked that about her. No, he loved that about her. He loved it when she babied him. He would hate it if anyone else did it, but when she did it, he felt pampered and loved.
Ragini got him a glass of water and raised his bed so that it would be easier for him to drink it. After she had put the glass away, Sanskar held her hand again.
“I was really scared when you agreed to come there and reached the farmhouse” Sanskar admitted to her, drawing her hand closer to his lips and kissing her knuckles
“Do you know how scared I was when I heard your screams” Ragini said, sniffing in the end as she remembered the moment
“I am sorry for putting you through that” Sanskar told her, kissing her hand again “I don’t know what I would have done if you had reached there”
“Ranveer bhai and his guards ambushed that, that slimy person’s guards” Ragini said scrunching her face in disgust “when they got there. Mom was with me. I was worried I was putting her life in danger as well as yours” she said revealing the guilt she was feeling in addition to the fear.
“I know you must have been stressed thinking about both of us and it sure as hell wasn’t safe, but I am glad she was with you. I am glad you weren’t alone” Sanskar admitted “Does it make me a bad son?” he asked
“If you are bad, I am right there with you. I was the one who didn’t stop her from coming” Ragini assured him
Sanskar tried to move to hug her and reassure her, but the movement made pain shoot through his chest. He fell back, with a moan.
“Don’t move” Ragini said worried “Wait, I will call the doctor” she said, trying to move away, but Sanskar held on to her hand. She let him recover his breath a bit, running her fingers gently through his hair, hoping to sooth him through the motion a bit.
Sanskar’s breath returned back to normal as the pain reduced, after couple of minutes.
“Is it hurting a lot?” Ragini asked concerned, her eye moistening a bit seeing him in the state.
“I am better” Sanskar said softly, but Ragini didn’t look convinced. To lighten the mood and make her feel better, he said “You know there is a way you can make me feel better”
“How?” she asked genuinely
“You can kiss me and make it better” Sanskar said with a cheeky smile
“Sanskar!” Ragini said feeling scandalized “How can you think about that at a moment like this? You are not well”
“What has that got to do with kissing?” Sanskar told her as a teasing smile played his lips “My lips are completely fine. You can check it, if you like” he said raising his eyebrows suggestively
“Sanskar, we are in a hospital!” Ragini said with an amused smile of her own
“So?” Sanskar asked nonchalantly “Don’t make excuses. If you don’t want to kiss me, say so” he said with a pout
“Sanskar!” Ragini uttered now laughing at his antics
He made pretend angry faces at her which made her giggle.
“Okay!” Ragini said, moving closer to him
“Huh! You are saying that as though you are doing me a favor” he said still pretending to be upset
“Sanskar” Ragini said closing the gap between them “Shut up!” as she kissed him gently.
Sanskar wasn’t having any of that and wrapped an arm around her waist with the other running through her hair and pulled her into a deep kiss.
“Ahem” someone coughed loudly behind them, clearing their throat.
Ragini moved away from Sanskar and turned around to find Ranveer standing by the door. She felt deeply embarrassed at having been caught by her brother. “I will go find the doctors and let them know that Sanskar is awake” she said before trying to rush away.
Ranveer held her hand as she passed by “Laddo, I have been protecting you from all of your mishaps so far” he whispered conspiringly “But if it had been someone else from the family who had walked in right now, you would have been in deep trouble”
“Bhai!” she moaned, because of his teasing, before pulling her hand away from his and running out of the room.
Ranveer looked over at Sanskar. Sanskar met his look firmly, despite feeling a bit embarrassed himself. Ranveer raised his eyebrow at Sanskar, but didn’t say much as he came at sat next to the bed.
“You look better” he commented after sitting quietly for a while.
Sanskar raised his eyebrow, giving himself a look, before turning back to Ranveer “Really?” he asked sarcastically
“Well better than how I found you” Ranveer said shrugging his shoulder
Sanskar nodded “So what happened afterwards?” he asked
“Let’s just say Kaka took care of Aditya” Ranveer told him
“What does that really mean? You say that a lot but I can never be sure what you mean. Is he dead?” Sanskar asked
“Not entirely” Ranveer said making a face
“What do you mean not entirely. Either someone is dead or they are are not” Sanskar asked confused
Ranveer sighed “You really want to know?” he asked. Sanskar nodded in response “Fine” Ranveer said “I wasn’t there with Kaka myself” he said before he continued “Sundar, Laddo’s other bodyguard was with Kaka. He wanted to help take care of Aditya considering he had the hit put out of Laddo. Sundar cares for her a lot and he thought of Raghu Kaka as his own father” he explained “He and some of the other guards beat the hell out of Aditya, but just then Sheila Raheja got there. She begged Kaka to spare her son. Kaka was in no mood, according to Sundar, but she kept on saying that it was all for her sister and niece and that they were really worried about what would happen if Ranveer took over. She fell on his feet”
“And Shekhar Gadodia believed her?” Sanskar asked confused
“I am not entirely sure, but he agreed to spare Aditya’s life” Ranveer told him
‘What?” Sanskar shot, trying to sit up, but falling back in the bed after pain shot through him
“Easy there” Ranveer said, helping Sanskar lay down in the bed
“I cannot believe Shekhar Gadodia forgave his daughter’s killer. All our effort, all my pain was for waste” Sanskar said angrily
“Not exactly” Ranveer told him
“What do you mean not exactly?” Sanskar asked annoyed
“Kaka said that he would keep Aditya alive, but in the next instance he shot Aditya” Ranveer told him “Fired two shots in the spinal cord” he explained “Aditya is alive but on ventilator. Even if he recoveres, he is going to be paralyzed for life. He is a vegetable now”
Sanskar let go a sigh of relief. True no human should have such life, but then Aditya wasn’t really human in his eyes. And he had the right, he felt, to be a bit vindictive after what the snake was planning to do to his Ragini.
“Can I ask you something?” Sanskar asked after they had been quiet for a while
“Since when do you ask permission before throwing a question at me?” Ranveer asked, looking amused
Sanskar rolled his eyes, before he got serious “Aditya said something when I was held captive” he said
Ranveer sighed “You mean about Adarsh and I eating into the business, right?” he asked
“Do you remember you asked me why I joined this business?” Ranveer asked him, receiving a nod in response “I guess I can tell you a bit about it today” Ranveer admitted.
Sanskar’s eyes widened, he hadn’t truly expected answers when he has asked it, considering that Ranveer had never given his reasons to Ragini despite her asking numerous times.
“Remember I told you once that in this business, friends are temporary and enemies are permanent” Ranveer said looking seriously at Sanskar, who gave a small nod. “The only way to protect the family in the long run, is to ensure that you have someone in the family taking over the leadership from the previous generation.” He explained “Why do you think that Adarsh joined the business?” he asked
Sanskar’s looked surprised. He hadn’t really thought about it. He and Adarsh always had separate views about the business, he never delved much into them and try to understand them. He always felt the need to run away as far as he could, from everything that was related to the business “How do you know that?” he asked
“Adarsh and I may not be best friends, but we did study together in the same college during engineering. We didn’t hang out together, but we always understood what was facing us. We must have spoken only a handful of times, but we quickly realized we had at least some views that were similar” he explained “Just because the families have been in a proxy war doesn’t mean everyone in the family was enemies with each other”
“So you and Adarsh bhaiyaa joined to protect the family?” Sanskar asked trying to confirm
“Something like that” Ranveer said “We didn’t want our siblings involved if we could help it. In my case, that was never even a thought that I would have entertained” he explained “In this business, there have been only two ways to hand over power, one is that someone snatches it from you by killing you and your family. And the other, is that you find your successor and hand the power and the mantle over to him”
Sanskar looked at him intently, but didn’t interrupt him
“First one would have been dangerous for the family and the second one would have meant leaving in the fear of someone new who held no guarantees that they would keep the family out of it” Ranveer continued explained “We thought of a third way. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t going to be quick, in fact it was going to be very very slow. It came with a lot of risks, because if it came out in the open, our own nexus partners would want to take us out” he said
“What are you talking about?” Sanskar asked feeling both confused and worried for Adarsh and Ranveer
“I am talking about slowly reducing the illegal component of the business and letting the legal component take over. It meant, creating subtle barriers and hindrances to carrying out the deal in a cheaper but illegal way, so that the only way left was the legal way” he explained
“What do you mean?” Sanskar asked
“I am talking about the one odd leak of land mafia story that ensure the deal wouldn’t go through the illegal way because of press limelight. That one odd change in legal procedures which on the face of it didn’t mean much, but when you do to it, made it necessary to reduce the black money component of the deal” Ranveer explained
“But if Aditya knew about it, wouldn’t others be aware of it? You could be in danger” Sanskar said worried
“Aditya knew about it because Kaka was aware of it. I am sure that is how it got out” Ranveer said sighing “Sometimes it’s better if Kaka doesn’t know anything, but Dadaji wanted him to be aware. I knew it was a risk, since he is likely to open up to them”
“You mean the family was aware of what you were doing?” Sanskar asked confused
“Not everyone in the family is. Only dadaji and Kaka were supposed to know. They weren’t happy about it, but yes they were aware. I couldn’t have been able to pull it off if they found out later. I am not sure about your family. Adarsh and I didn’t exactly speak about it much. We were doing it our own way, it was just that our ways matched so it was easy to identify what was going on” Ranveer explained
“I cannot believe it” Sanskar said as he tried to assimilate what was being said to him. He was still in shock.
“Why do you think Adarsh is holding back on starting a family?” Ranveer asked “He wants to get to a certain level and be sure of this, before he brings a child into this world where he might be expected to take on the mantle”
“Oh!” Sanskar uttered shocked, even as he looked at Ranveer. Ranveer could read the question in his eyes. Sanskar wanted to know about Ranveer in this scenario
“I had the same view as Adarsh, but Maa pushed me to get married. Then Aditi came into my life and changed everything. She wanted a child of our own, I couldn’t deny her that and we had Ashu. And Ashu wanted a sibling, so the new baby” Ranveer explained
“He is focused on babies” Sanskar admitted, with a smile
“He is” Ranveer admitted with a smile “But Aditi and I are done after this baby” he said with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes “If Ashu wants any more babies after this, I am going to direct him to Laddo and to you”
Sanskar eyes widened as he felt put on the spot and felt a bit embarrassed
“You know Ashu came to me last month telling me that his Kaka didn’t know where babies came from” Ranveer said with teasing smile “Going by what I walked in on, I can safely tell him that his Kaka knows everything now” as he chuckled
Sanskar felt embarrassed to the extent that he was left blushing now “Keep him away from us for a while” Sanskar said finally “May be you can direct him to Adarsh bhaiyaa instead”
“May be I should” Ranveer said, as they both had a good laugh over it.
Ranveer left him alone when the doctors came over to check him. After they were done, Ragini walked in. She was blushing a bit. Sanskar was sure it was Ranveer’s doing.
Sanskar caressed her cheeks a bit, before asking teasingly “So what is the reason for the blush?”
Ragini shook her head but didn’t answer, even though her blush increased after being caught.
“Ranveer disturbed us earlier” Sanskar said with a mischievous smile “What about continuing where we left off?” he said, intent on making her blush even more, which she did. He loved to see the blush on her cheeks
“Sanskar!” she said lightly patting him on the shoulder, careful not to hurt him
“What!” Sanskar said pretending to be hurt “You don’t want me to get well”
“Sanskar” Ragini said softly hearing him, feeling bad thinking she had hurt him
“If you want me to get well, then I need my kiss. Actually kisses” Sanskar said puckering his lips
“Sanskar! I don’t want to be caught by someone else in the family” Ragini said shyly
“They lock the door” Sanskar told her, suggestively raising his eyebrows. Ragini widened her eyes, but complied, walking back over to him
“Can we stay here, locked away from the family?” Sanskar asked mischievously
“Sanskar!” Ragini said trying to reprimand him, but he pulled her into a deep kiss before she could say anything else.
Precap – Epilogue
Links to previous chapters
Credit to: Azure