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Om looked at her as she sat dumbfounded and straightened her hair.
“You might think that I am impulsive but if you knew how much I have controlled myself since that night in the studio you wouldn’t think too badly of me for what I just did.”
Aishani didn’t say a word and just looked at a vague point avoiding eye-contact.
Just to be clear, I am not expecting any response from you. I was trying to clear Shikhar of any blame and that just slipped out. I have had a lot of time to think about it and process my feelings. It would be unfair to expect you to process it in a jiffy and start talking about it. So take your time and talk about it when you are ready.As it is, with our life experiences, we are the kind of people who when suddenly faced with even a harmless, cute teddy bear, will wonder if there is a ticking bomb in it. You know, once bitten… So, I get it…” Om looked at her still face …”OK. You don’t have to respond to what I told you earlier but it would be nice if you moved a little cos’ you look a little creepy being so still.”
Aishani turned to look at him. “Who is the teddy bear?” she asked absentmindedly.
Om tried to control his laughter. “Well I was thinking in terms of love but between the two of us, as of now, I am that suspicious teddy bear I guess whom you are checking to ensure safety.”
Aishani gave a small laugh. “I’ll call you if I have questions. Otherwise we will meet as soon as I have a layout and it would have to be at the gallery space. I’ll see when Bhaiya expects it to be free for me to visit.
Om gave her a long look, then got up to leave and Aishani walked with him to see him off. Her usual sinking of heart set in at the thought of him leaving and for the first time she understood fully why. “He is my safety blanket. There is no one else in this world from whom I can get such comfort and peace. But for how long will this last…”
Om said bye to her as he walked out of the door. As she closed it she turned around leaning on it clutching at her heart. A sense of desperation and craving surged through her and she tried to grapple with the feeling. Just then she heard a knock. Gingerly, Aishani opened the door and found Om standing there.
“I was wondering if I should wait until either your maid or Shikhar gets back. I don’t feel right leaving you all by yourself.”
Aishani was awestruck. “This is too much. Did he sense my desperation?” she thought. Om saw the expression on her face and came back inside and shut the door. Aishani looked at him for a brief second and hugged him tightly as if she was holding on to dear life. Om hugged her back while deep in thought.
Rudra, Soumya, and Priyanka got back to Oberoi Mansion in a very excited state. They were thrilled with their discussion.
“Not a word to anyone.” Soumya whispered. “We will meet in Priyanka’s room after dinner for further planning. Remember, just eight days left.”
Rudra smiled at the thrill on her face and nodded. They did not notice Anika passing by as she gave them a very suspicious glance. “What are the three of you doing?Why are you huddling together like that?”
All three were taken aback and looked at each other. Rudra recovered quickly smiling at Anika, “Hmm, Bhabhi, you are missing the golden olden times when you were on the youngsters team and part of every plan.”
“Which plan?” Anika enquired. Then she realized what he had said before that. “What do you mean were on the young team. In three four months I have become old or what?”
Rudra looked at Soumya. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Anyway, we will need her help. Let’s tell her. Bhabhi, meet us in Priyanka’s room after dinner. We will tell you everything.”
Anika felt a churning in her stomach. “What’s going on. There are four-five hours till dinner. I will die out of michmichi. Just tell me now.”
“No.” Rudra said firmly. “Main party might overhear and get to know and the plan will be ruined.”
“What main party? Do you guys think you are some secret agents? Talk clearly…” Anika yelled but the three had already scuttled away. Anika turned and found Saahil looking at her shrewdly. “What is going on?” he demanded.
Anika looked at Saahil, thought of what they had said and then felt a bulb light in her brain. “Ohhhh!” she said. “Nothing Saahil. Ready for your physio session? Let’s go.”
Om came back to Oberoi Mansion late in the afternoon in a happy but emotionally charged state. His mind went over what had happened earlier. After they had hugged for what seemed like a lifetime Aashi had pulled back. Her face was completely transformed by the soft expression in her eyes. She looked like the girl in the pictures in Shikhar’s study.
“I am ok Om. I’ll be fine. I am overwhelmed at the moment and don’t have the right words to express myself. But you probably already know how I feel about you. I’ll talk as soon as I am ready I promise. And I won’t shut you out. I couldn’t if I tried. But for now, go home. I’ll call you tomorrow whether I have questions or not and whether I have the layout ready or not.” Om had held her a little longer and knowing that she was right in sending him away, he had kissed her forehead one last time before reluctantly letting go of her. But they had parted on a positive note and he felt happy about it.
After dinner, Anika finished all of her work downstairs and rushed to Saahil’s room to check on him. As usual Shivaay had tucked him in and he was fast asleep. She kissed him tenderly on his forehead and imagined how it would be eight days later. Officially, he would belong to her, completely. No one would ever say that she was not really his own. She smiled looking at his angelic face and left the room.
In her own room she rushed through her nightly routine, changed into a cool blue pyjama set, and was rushing out of her room when she crashed straight into Shivaay who was coming back from his study, and almost fell over.
“Whoa!!! Hurricane express! What’s up with you. Whom are you going to save in this superhero mode?”
“Not now Shivaay. I have some important work. Let me go.” She said hastily as she tried to get away.
Shivaay looked at the desperation on her face and got a perfect opportunity to get on her nerves. “Sure, sure” he said pretending to let her go and then when she was off-guard he picked her up, carried her to the bed and dumped her there.
She looked at him in disbelief and anger.
“I said I had important work. Let me go !”
Shivaay landed right next to her holding her. “Not so fast. I’ve waited for this all day. I won’t let you go.”
She saw the determined expression on his face and knew that it would be hard to fight with him. She softened her stance, kissed him softly and pleaded, “Please Shivaay. Let me go. It’s important.”
He smiled. “OK. But tell me what is it that’s so important.”
“I think Rudra, Soumya, and Priyanka are planning a surprise for Saahil.”she whispered. “They are planning it in Priyanka’s room after dinner. They asked me to come as they may need some help.”
Shivaay felt excited too. “Oh! That’s great.” he said letting her go. Then as she reached the door he asked hopefully, “Wait! Can I come too?”
“Sorry!” She said apologetically.”It’s only for youngsters.” and left.
Shivaay stared after her fuming.”Youngsters!! You come back and I’ll show you how young I am.”
Thanks for reading Everyone. Please comment if you can ☺