Greetings all you lovely people!! Thank you so much for all your love and appreciation for the previous episode!! It’s wonderful to know that you are enjoying the story! Keep the love coming!! Happy reading!
A quick recap: Kunj panics over Twinkle’s sudden disappearance from the house, but ends up finding her at the cafe. He experiences her new outlook to fighting her battles when there, and takes a stand for her, supporting her, but never getting in her way.
Twinkle inhaled sharply as the doors to the Sarna Mansion were opened for her and Kunj. They had just got home after what was arguably one of her toughest days at the cafe – with all those people coming in with more sinister interests than just food. Maya had seemed thrown off too, but Twinkle had been so grateful that the former had stood her ground firmly. Just like Kunj. She quickly glanced at Kunj, who already had his eyes on her, with a gentle, reassuring look. He simply seemed to know exactly how to make her feel better instantly.
“Come in, now.” Usha’s voice broke the trance that she hadn’t even realised she had fallen into as she stared at Kunj. She turned her head immediately and found Usha calling out to them from the sofa she was sitting on. It only took Twinkle another second to spot all the others sitting around the coffee table as well, all their eyes on her. She gulped hard and stepped in, her foot somehow synchronising with Kunj’s, bringing her some unknown relief. She wasn’t alone.
The pin-drop silence in the hall was beginning to kill Twinkle, and she had almost blurted out an apology when Usha said, “Yuvi told us you had to leave early this morning to cover a big order. That’s alright. It’s getting too late now, we should all go to sleep.” Twinkle blinked once. Twice. She was unable to believe her ears. Was that really all Usha had to say? “I’m sorry.” Twinkle said before she had even realised it, and Usha nodded before standing up and leaving. “We have to be kind to her, Bebe. She is already dealing with so much. Where will she go, if not? How will she fight the whole world all by herself?” She was saying to an evidently confused Bebe as the two women ascended the stairs.
Manohar had been his usual self to Twinkle, and so had Yuvi. They had made it a point to express their genuine concern and give her their best ‘don’t give up, we are right around the turning point’ word of encouragement before making sure she was alright and leaving. It was then that Twinkle had asked to speak to Aditi. The sudden onset of coldness between them was beginning to consume her whole, and she didn’t think she could take it anymore at all. Kunj grinned at her, as though letting her know that he was really glad she had taken that decision, before walking away and leaving the two alone. And perhaps, it meant a tad bit more to her because she knew the kind of relationship Kunj and Aditi shared. Not that she would accept that being a reason though. How could Kunj be affecting her so much?
Aditi seemed to have seen this coming though. She had already surprised Twinkle by not avoiding the conversation, which the latter had been dreading. And now she started speaking by herself. “I should have probably been saying things that conveyed my understanding of your situation, right from the night of the reception, Twinkle. But I apologise, for I could not. Even if I did, I would have been lying. But now, I do. At least a tiny bit. I don’t really know what happened back at your home – the Tanejas’ place.” She quickly corrected herself, throwing Twinkle a look of apology before continuing, “But I know that it must have been the hardest to build a whole new world all by yourself, and for that, I do stand by you.” She sighed deeply, looking as if she was wondering what she should say next.
Twinkle shook her head gently, venturing a step towards Aditi with eyes that were now beginning to well up. “It wasn’t the hardest, because I still had people I trusted in. People who stood by me without asking a single question – you, Yuvi and -” She broke off with a twisted smile, unable to believe all that had happened in just the last few days. “And Kunj.” Aditi finished for her, placing her hand gently over Twinkle’s. She saw a flash of some unrecognisable expression flash in Twinkle’s eyes for a fraction of a second at that mention before they turned glassy again, like the latter had regained control over her emotions immediately. Aditi didn’t point that out though.
“Twinkle, I’ve always been an outsider to this house – the Sarna mansion. If you look at it, Yuvi and I are only tied to this house because of Yuvi’s friendship with Kunj. You’ve seen Yuvi deal with his past, he wouldn’t make it out of his darkness without Kunj. And his family. But I’ll always be the outsider. The one for whom everything depends on that one friendship. I know it’s strong enough to take on a whole thunderstorm and get away unharmed, but I’m scared. Almost always.” Aditi’s eyes had a distant look now, as she revealed some of her most private thoughts to Twinkle. The latter looked on, stunned. Overcome by a sudden urge, she gently squeezed Aditi’s hand and was rewarded with a sniffled smile.
When Twinkle had held on to her understanding silence, Aditi added, “That night when I saw how much that revelation affected this family, I was scared for myself and Yuvi, scared that we would have to bear the brunt of it for being your friends, for advocating your wedding. I was scared Yuvi would lose the only family he has left, that I would lose Yuvi in all the chaos that ensued, that he would lose himself and turn into a miserable mess of pain and self-imposed distance from the world. I didn’t want that! I love him, and couldn’t let that happen! I’m sorry I was selfish, but there is absolutely nobody in this world that means to me as much as he does, and there is nobody I can put before him, not even myself!” She choked on a sob, and Twinkle quickly moved to hand her a glass of water. “You would know only if you loved someone too.” Aditi whispered, making Twinkle look up at her with an undecipherable look in her eyes, but they both quickly dismissed it.
“I never meant to put either of you through all this, I promise.” Twinkle spoke softly, like she feared that any louder would ruin the sanctity of the moment. Her own voice was heavily laden with emotions, for not once had she thought of the issue this way. She had never seen Aditi’s insecurities before. Besides, the amount of love she had shown for Yuvi was overwhelming. “Of course! I know that!” Aditi said, putting away her glass and grabbing Twinkle’s hands in a show of confidence. “I had told both of them to consider revealing the truth before the wedding, but…” Twinkle began but found herself at a loss of words. “Kunj knew too?” Aditi asked curiously, getting a simple nod in response. But Twinkle could feel her cheeks burning as she thought of the day Kunj had proposed, or perhaps, the way he had done it. He hadn’t deliberately held her in his arms ever since, she found herself pondering subconsciously, but quickly shook her head to dismiss the thought. What was even happening to her?
Aditi’s exclamation of “And he didn’t tell a soul?” jolted Twinkle out of her thoughts. Aditi wondered how Twinkle had still not figured out why Kunj went out of his way to do things for her all the time. “He’s a good friend.” Twinkle offered in explanation, and she could have sworn she had seen Aditi roll her eyes at that. “You probably need to think that through, Twinkle.” She asserted, giving her a knowing glance, one that Twinkle really wished she could decode, but failed. Before she had mustered enough courage to ask Aditi though, the latter quipped in, “I’m really sorry for treating you so harshly! I know you might not want to forgive me right away, but it would mean a lot to me if you would even consider it.” Other thoughts instantly set aside, Twinkle quickly responded with an “I never held any grudge against you for it, Aditi! And I don’t see anything that requires forgiving either. I am really grateful though, that you considered sharing your thoughts with me. That you trusted me despite all that happened.”
Twinkle was surprised when Aditi giggled softly. “We have been friends for so long, no? And now that we are married to those two brothers, we ought to stick to each other, to fuss about how stupid each one is.” She commented with a wink, making Twinkle laugh too.
When Twinkle walked into Kunj and her room, the dominating thought on her mind had been Aditi’s reaction to her description of Kunj as a good friend. She hadn’t been able to pass it off as a casual comment either. Kunj had, after all, spent almost his entire day at the cafe just for her sake. The sudden loss of footing and Kunj’s ‘Whoa! Are you alright?’ startled her, and she found herself in his protective embrace yet again, but she did not remember how. Just as she figured that she had probably run into him as he stepped into the room from their balcony, she heard him whimper, “You’re still standing on my toes.”
She literally jumped back at that, making him giggle as she lost her balance, but he caught her in time yet again. She did not remember putting her hand on his chest, but could feel his heart thudding wildly. She glanced up at him, only to find him staring intently. He blinked his eyes in what looked like an attempt to tear away from his gaze, but was clearly failing at it. He could hear his thoughts screaming ‘Stop staring! You’ll scare her away! You can’t let her find out you are so hopelessly in love yet!’ but then she was so close to him, his arms around her, that he simply could not bring himself to look away. Instead, he found his hand making its way to her hair, gently pushing the loose strands behind her ear. His mind danced at the thought that she hadn’t flinched at his touch, much like he had feared she would.
Kunj had just loosened his grip on her when she leaned towards him and pulled his arms back around her, as though demanding to be held. Her action had shocked them both equally. She hadn’t realised when his embrace had become her safe place, or when she had become comfortable with hugs again. All she knew was that she wanted this one. And she wanted it to never end. Kunj seemed to get that though, no questions asked. He went back to holding her, and placed his head over hers. Although a sensible part of his mind beseeched him to not forget that she was only looking for a friend in him, he simply could not ward off the thoughts of this becoming a regular thing between them. The possibility of her falling back in love with him made his heart flutter.
Only a few seconds of comfortable silence later, during which Kunj was sure Twinkle’s thoughts were racing off to a number of things at the same time, he felt his T-shirt get wet just where her eyes were pressed against it. “Your mother is keeping me here out of pity.” She voiced before he had figured out a way to ask her about it. “She has said it over and over again that I have nowhere else to go, and will not be able to face the world all by myself yet again.” She mumbled, putting Kunj in a fix. He didn’t know what he could say to that. “That brings me back to where I started from, Kunj! It is this very sympathy that I have been running away from! I don’t know what I should do now!” She whined, pulling back and looking at him, suddenly realising that she had forgotten she was hiding in his arms to avoid the embarrassment of coming off as needy by initiating that hug. Before she could bring herself to return to her earlier position though, one of Kunj’s hands reached out to her cheeks carefully, wiping the tears.
His other hand tightened its hold on her, still somehow managing to only make her feel safe, and not confined. His own eyes had welled up as he crooked a finger under her chin to make her look up at him. “Neither of us had any control over what happened, Twinkle. Maybe you would have chosen to do things differently, but we were bound to deal with all of this in lesser or greater vigour even then. I know you hate the idea of being pitied upon, and honestly, I never thought Ma, of all people, would do that to you. But let’s see it this way. She was the one person whose reaction we had feared the most, right? And we have dealt with that already. Her show of pity only comes from her will to show indifference, but deep inside, she hasn’t cut you off from her completely. She had accepted you as her own wholeheartedly on the day of the wedding, and nothing can ever change that. She will come around eventually, and we both know that. Perhaps this is her first step towards it?” He spoke cautiously, gauging her reactions at every little thing.
Kunj found himself freezing when she leaned towards him, her lips dangerously close to his neck as she readjusted her position in his grasp. He knew she was feeling extremely vulnerable right then, and wanted to do everything that he ever could if it meant she would feel better, but only if he knew how to! So he let his intuitions guide him, and guardedly ran his fingers through her hair, sighing in relief when he felt her calm down a few minutes later. Falling in love with Twinkle was easy, he had done so in a flash. But hiding it from her was, as he was learning, way harder than he could have ever imagined.
That’s it for now, guys! Feel free to tell me what you thought about it, and stay tuned for the next one!! It’s going to change things and how!