Khushi woke up to find a glass of water with pills on her bedside table, she wondered who had kept it there, but the mystery was solved when she saw a note next to it ‘Take this when you wake up. It will help soothe any tiredness you’ll definitely be feeling, Arnav’ She smiled and stretched lazily. She deeply blushed remembering last night. She got up and took the pill as instructed. She looked at the clock next to he table, it showed 10:35am. Khushi leapt to her feet and got ready quickly before going to the twin’s room, she had no idea that she had overslept so much! She tiptoed into their room to find it empty; she found it odd that they were not in the room, once she reached the living room, she heard a loud voice coming from the music room. She rushed in to find the twins being scolded by Dadiji and Payal. They both had tears in their eyes and were looking down when Khushi came in. She took one look at them and turned towards dadiji “What happened dadiji, why are you scolding them? I’m sorry I overslept since I had a spitting headache from last night. Whatever they did, im sure they must have had a reason” The twins looked up when Khushi spoke, Vivaan came and hugged her while holding her waist, he spoke with a teary voice “We are very sorry for what we did last night, we had no idea all this would happen<hiccup>” Khushi looked at dadiji with astonishment “Yes Khushi bitiya, don’t even try and cover for them. I know all the tricks they have been playing on you including your welcome with crackers, Arnav has told me everything. I still cannot believe the prank they played on you last night! Here I thought they were full of their mothers goodness with a little bit of naughtiness, but with this stunt they have taken it to some other level! Obviously their fathers blood has influenced them!” Vibha started crying very loudly when she heard her great-grandmother say this. Khushi went and hugged her, at first Vibha relented but then hugged her back while crying on her shoulder. Khushi held Vivaans hand while hugging Vibha and turned towards dadiji “Sorry to keep these things from you dadiji, but I wanted to deal with them In my own way. I know they did not want me here, but I also knew that they needed someone who could understand why they did these things. The only thing they need in their life is their mother, no amount of love from anyone or any governess can fulfill that. Their father has not influenced them in any way. I have seen how much they crave their mothers love, they sketch her pictures day and night, they always kiss her when she is asleep. Their eyes follow her everywhere she goes. They just miss their mother” Dadiji and payal both had tears in their eyes as they heard Khushi speak up for the kids, she looked with misty eyes at the kids “I am sorry darlings, I did not mean what I said. Sometimes due to old age I end up saying mean things. Hope you will forgive me? And Khushi bitiya, I was right when I said that you are what this house needs, with your love and devotion you have bought about a change in this palace’s atmosphere” with that she came forward and hugged all three of them. The twins looked at Khushi with a shy smile “Sorry Ms Kumari, we really like you. We are very sorry for all the things we did. You are the best governess we have ever had. Hope you’ll stay with us forever!” Khushi gave them a wide smile, she felt a huge weight lift off her shoulders “Well I don’t know about forever, but right now I am not going anywhere!” with that they all started laughing and proceeded to the living room. No one noticed the lone figure of Anjali crying quietly in the other corner while observing the entire exchange. She felt like such a coward and unworthy of her children’s love ‘Why God! Why me..Why am I not stronger? Please God give me the courage and strength to come out of this’ Thinking this she went hobbling out of the room.
Arnav had a silly grin on his face when Aman walked in; he was just contemplating calling dadiji to ask about Khushi since he did not want to call her directly. Aman had a grim look on his face as he walked in with a file “What is it Aman? Why the sad look? More bad news?” Aman passed the file to Arnav and sat down opposite him “Khushi Gupta, Age 24, Did her MBA from Princeton University first class, Joined Gupta group of hotels nearly a year ago and has already Worked on 2 major hotel projects within India in Kerela & Jaipur, while she has just closed three International deals in UAE, Nepal and Singapore. The industry pundits say she is a force to be reckoned with. Very smart just like her father and well accepted in the industry. She does charity and works weekends in old age homes. She has started many shelters from her personal funds for Street children and homeless widows. Basically your modern day Mother Teresa with a business degree. I highly doubt she would be the one to get this project underhandedly. I mean if she is that good and has such a big heart, it’s very unlikely that she would do this I don’t know but somehow its not summing up”. Arnav was first shocked to hear Khushi, since he was just thinking of her but he obviously knew that this Khushi was miles away form His Khushi, see once again he was thinking her as his Khushi, he shook his head and got back to the matter at hand, Ms Khushi Gupta’s file was very impressive, he could not believe he had not heard about her being in the same profession, he remembered a conversation he had with Shashi Gupta a few years ago when he had spoken proudly of his daughter and how she will take over from him one day. Arnav sighed and looked at Aman “Why is there no picture of her? I may have met her for all I know, Also just because a person is kind and good hearted in the public eye does not make them pure and honest in business. I know how badly this company wanted this Goa project and the fact that they changed their quotes takes the ball further in their court. I want a picture of this girl asap, Fax it to my office in the palace. I’m leaving a bit early today. Let me know if something else comes up” Saying this Arnav got up and left. He had too much stuff to think about.
Khushi and the Twins were sitting in the twin’s room. Vivaan was lying on his stomach trying to sketch her while Khushi was braiding Vibha’s hair. Since it was a holiday they had quickly finished their homework for the coming week and were now lazing about, Vibha looked sideways at Khushi “Khushi didi (they had decided they’ll be calling her didi from now on) Is there any way we can make mumma talk? I mean she seems to listen to you. Can you not tell her to talk to us?” Khushi gave a sad smile “I have tried dear, but your mother needs more encouragement. Maybe if we work together we can do something?” Both the kids suddenly shot up “Really? You think it will work?” Khushi could not help smiling, she started devising a plan as soon as she had uttered those words “Yes…I think this can work..ok now listen up very carefully both of you” all three of them got very close as khushi started explaining the plan to them.
Anjali was in her room painting a calm ocean scene, the french windows facing her room had a direct view of the gardens in the north east corner of the palace. This garden was still under construction and had been dug over to accommodate fully grown trees. The ditches were as deep as 2 ft to 6ft; Hardly anyone came her except the workers and since it was a holiday the entire place was deserted, Anjali liked it like this; she often felt her life was like this, full of ditches..with no idea of when who will fall where. She sighed and continued with her painting. Suddenly from the corner of her eyes she saw a movement near the far end of the garden. Vivaan was running about the open ditches trying to catch a frisbee. She fondly watched him as he kept running backward to try and catch it, but suddenly his foot got caught and he fell in one of the ditches. Anjali let our a blood curdling scream and hobbled out of the room towards the main door leading towards the garden plot as fast as she could. She reached the ditch where Vivaan had fallen and saw him lying there with his head down. Even though the ditch was only 2-3ft in depth, Anjali's blood ran cold seeing her boy in this position, she screamed his name over and over again. She Got down into the ditch and picked him up “Are you ok baby? Please open your eyes..mummy's here” She felt tears running down her soiled face. Suddenly vivaan opened his eyes and looked directly into her eyes. She gave a huge smile and started kissing him all over his face. Vivaan was overjoyed, he held onto his mother in a death grip and started crying in her arms. Anjali took him out of the ditch and climbed herself out; Vibha and Khushi came running towards them. Everyone seemed to be stunned , Khushi and the twins were stunned looking at Anjali while Anjali was stunned that she had spoken and cried with the kids, she decided she had enough of this solitude and pulled Vibha towards her, she cried her heart out as she felt both her kids hug her fiercely. She looked up to see a smiling Khushi with her eyes moist with unshed tears. She mouthed a silent thank you to her and got up. They all started walking towards the palace in silence, they knew that this was the last of the unspoken words, Their mother was back!
Arnav had just gotten back from his office, when suddenly there was a lot of commotion in the palace, he saw as most of the staff had gathered in the main living room near the temple. He thought dadiji had some new pundit preaching due to which everyone in the house seemed to be engrossed in it, He started walking away from the temple towards the stairs when he heard a voice, a voice which he had not heard since soo many years “Chotey?!” He was too scared to turn around; he knew it was di, but he was too scared to accept this happiness of hearing his sisters voice. He finally turned towards the temple and what he saw completely stunned him to the bone, His sister, his lovely beautiful sister was standing with both the kids and dadiji, smiling at him. She looked radiant in an orange sari with her hair flowing about her and a kind of natural glow on her face. Arnav pinched himself thinking he was in some kind of a trance. He slowly walked towards her and took her face in his palms. He was still speechless when he heard his di speak again “Oh God! Now see this...i thought you'll have soo much to tell me after soo many years. And now that i have finally spoken, you seemed to have lost your voice” Her smile was growing wider and wider, he felt he was dreaming, it couldn't be. He leaned his forehead against hers and took a deep breath “Di, please tell me im not dreaming” Anjali stroked his face and grinned “No chotey, you are not dreaming. I was a coward all these years, too afraid to open up, too scared to get hurt again. But now i have come to terms with my evils. I don't want to be that Anjali anymore. I want to be happy, i want to be with my children and my chotey. Will you please forgive me for all those years i wasted?” Arnav pulled her towards him and hugged her hard “Di, you don't need to apologize for anything! It was never your fault! Im just glad this nightmare of 8 years is over..im soo happy that you finally found the will and courage of come out of it” Anjali smiled at him “Yes i know chotey, somehow all these years when you all left me alone on doctors orders, i felt it was the right way for things to progress. I did not make an effort and felt like i should keep living in a solitary confinement where no one can hurt me, but only i knew deep down how difficult it was for me not to hold my babies, not kiss them back when every night they kissed me back and i pretended to be asleep just so i could get that kiss. Only i know how difficult it was for me not to talk to you, ask you how you were when you were stressed. How dadiji and Yuvi tried their best to hold this family together. But all this changed when i met Khushiji, in the first meeting i had with her, i felt she could see right through me, through my facade of indifference, she provoked me, she consoled me, she made me realize my worth in my children's life. Today if the twins and Khushiji had not played that trick which made me realize my commitment and love towards my children, i would not be talking and laughing with you all today. I truly owe my life to her for bringing me out of my stale dead world. She truly is an angel”
Arnav had tears in his eyes hearing his sisters account of her life, the things she had to bear just because she was scared to love anyone. The fact that Khushi was the one who bought her out was not a surprise to him, he knew if anyone could do it, it would be her. He owed her his life too and loved her more for being the way she was, 'loved' he thought..did he just say that? He was more confused now. He did not know what love was, maybe this gratitude he felt for her made his feeling more overwhelming towards her, but he could not explain the fierce protectiveness and possessiveness he felt for her. He felt he would never be complete without her. But it was all too soon. Attraction he understood, he knew they both wanted each other, but he had to tread lightly here, he knew next to nothing about her and she had already made a place in his heart. He closed his eyes trying to blot out this dilemma. He kept his thoughts aside for later as he took his sister to the sitting room. He had many years of talking left to do, starting right now.
Everyone was still talking and catching up with Anjaliji in the sitting room. Khushi knew they had many many years to catch up on. Khushi had her dinner in the kitchen along with sharada since no one seemed to want to eat anything. She glanced into the sitting room while returning to her room; The scene was truly magical! The twins were snug against their mother on either side while dadiji sat on one end of the sofa. Arnav sat laughing near anjaliji's legs , he looked like a young boy all carefree and happy,while Yuvi was seated opposite her. They were all looking at some old albums, probably the twins childhood ones. Khushi was very happy to hear from Sharada how Anjali had accepted Yuvi wholeheartedly. She did not want anything of the past to come up again. They were once again a whole family, happy and complete. So why did Khushi feel like something was not right? Why did she feel that she should be with them? Why in such a short time, they had become like her family? Khushi was still juggling her feeling for Arnav; yes she had accepted that she was extremely attracted to him and wanted him a lot, but she also had to come to terms with the fact that she felt restless when she did not see him, she felt alive in his arms as if she had been starved for soo long and only Arnav was her salvation. She felt happy when he was happy, sad when he was sad. All this was soo confusing. She kept her thoughts aside as she prepared herself for bed. She knew that today probably Anjaliji wanted to put the twins to sleep. She washed her face clean of any make-up and tied up her hair in a high ponytail, she then changed into her silky shorts and tee. She put the bedside lamp on and got into bed finally she took out her book on Indo-Mughal architecture and settled in to read.
Arnav had finally helped put the twins to sleep in his di's room. He was exhausted after 6 hours of taking session, he just could have enough of his di's voice. He smiled as he walked towards his room. Throughout the 6 hours he spent with his family, he felt he was missing Khushi, he kept thinking of her in each conversation, like what would Khushi have said or how would Khushi have reacted. He shook his head as he came towards the twins room; he was desperate to see her and talk to her. He wanted to thank her, but he was afraid she might be regretting last night, he had this fear of being rejected. He saw a faint light coming from her room and he made up his mind. He lightly knocked on her door, she did not respond. He knocked again but again there was no sound. He pushed her door slowly and walked in. There she lay bathed in the soft glow of the table lamp. Her face scrubbed and hair tied, she looked like a temptress in her tight tee which moulded her body perfectly while her hard peaks were visible from the thin vest. Her blanket was at her feet, keeping her well toned long legs bare for his eyes. He went near her and sat on the bed. He moved a few tendrils which were spilling over her beautiful face and tucked them behind her ears. He took the book she was reading and closed it while keeping it on the table 'Indo-Mughal Architecture?' this girl amazed him everyday! He took the blanket near her feet and started covering her with it. As he tucked her in, Khushi's eyes flew open to meet Arnav's amused ones. She sat bolt upright in her bed while pulling her blanket to her chin “What are you doing here? In my room!” Arnav smiled “Sorry, i was just leaving. I had come to thank you about di, i cannot thank you enough for all that you have done. Seriously Khushi, if there is anything i can do for you please let me know” Khushi smiled a faint smile “No thanks necessary Mr raizada. It was meant to happen” Arnav squeezed her hand on the side and got up “Are you leaving?” Khushi asked suddenly. Arnav smirked inwardly “Yes, you asked me to remember?” Khushi looked embarrassed “I didn't ask you to leave. I only asked what you were doing in my room. I mean you can stay a while if you like” She felt her breathing get harder, why was she asking him to stay back! She wanted him gone, she wanted sanity..but then why her heart squeezed at the thought of him leaving her. Arnav sat back down on the bed and went near her “Khushi i wanted to talk about last night. I hope you don't regret what happened between us. And i also hope that you forgive me for not continuing it” Khushi gave a small smile “Off course i don't regret it, but it was a bit too fast was it not? Thank you for stopping it where we did, otherwise i don't know what would have happened” Arnav took her hands in his hands “Oh there's a lot that could have happened Khushi, but it didn't. I hope you'll call me Arnav now and not Mr Raizada?” Khushi looked at him surprised “Ok, i guess i can call you that in private but in front of others” Arnav laughed “Oh right! Limits and professional behavior and all that!” Khushi jumped up and pushed him hard, but along with him she too fell on top of him. Arnav took hold of her waist with one hand and held her tight against him, he traced his finger on her lower lip with the other. Khushi wound her hands around his neck and head as he turned her around and settled her beneath him. He bought his face very close to her and asked her to say his name “Arnav..” khushi replied seductively. He then traced her botton lip with his hot tongue as she moaned into her mouth, he sucked her bottom lip slowly and leisurely as Khushi felt a hot pool of desire between her legs. She wanted to kiss him impatiently but he made it very torturous as his teeth now grazed her lips, she again moaned his name “Arnav...please” Finding an opening he plunged his toungue inside her hot mouth and started sucking on her tongue. She tasted wonderful. She too held onto his hair while her other hand roamed over his taut back. She pressed him further into her, as her tongue made love to his in an age old rhythm. The kiss became more passionate as both of them felt the need and their desire increase with each thrust of their tongues, Khushi finally ended the kiss while breathing heavily trying to catch her breath. Both of them felt the power of their kiss as they settled in each others arms. Arnav looked at Khushi's desired filled eyes “Khushi, im not sure about what i feel for you, but i know that i want you near me. You've become my need, my madness, my sanity. I keep thinking of you all the time. All i know is that i ahve never felt like this about anyone else, but you. I want to explore what we have further but only if you are willing. And if you are not, i'll make sure you do” he said with a hopeful smile. Khushi looked at him with misty eyes “I too can't seem to get you out of my mind, my days are spent thinking of you and nights are spent dreaming of being in your arms. I know i've never felt like this about anyone else and i too want to explore this thing we have, but Arnav before starting anything new. I want to come clean with you; there is something you don't know about me, something which you should know and then you can decide if you still want to be with me” Arnav sat up in bed while Khushi sat opposite him “What is it Khushi? Are you already married? Do you have children? Tell me what it is?” Khushi gave him a nervous smile “No its none of that. It my identity” She took a deep breath and looked in his eyes which were confused “I am not a small town girl from Lucknow and i am not from a poor family either. I come from a very rich family in Mumbai. I am a business graduate from US and work with my father in his company. I lied to get this job because my life in mumbai had become very congested. I am supposed to be taking a giant leap taking over my father in his company, but recently i felt like a jailbird, i wanted to take flight, do a job other than the one which was offered to me on a silver platter, I wanted to live on my own and earn my wages to support myself. I never got to do all this while i was with my parents. I panicked when they started talking about my marriage and added responsibilities. So i took up this job by manipulating my aunts friend and posing as a governess. But believe me i never wanted to deceive anyone purposely. I wanted to do this job to prove something to myself. Are you follwong me?” Arnav seemed to be in a state of shock, he nodded his head and got up from the bed “So all this time, you were pretending to be Khushi from Lucknow? Is that even your real name? What do your parents think of this?” Khushi looked sheepishly at him “well, they don't exactly know about his job. They think im doing a course at Delhi university for few months and living with my best friend Dipti. And yes my real name is also Khushi, just not kumari..its G..” before she could finish her sentence Arnav held up his hand “I really don't understand how i should react to this! I am shocked but i guess i understand why you did this. Few years ago i too felt like leaving my job and taking off to the countryside. I wanted to explore life beyond conference halls and meeting rooms, but unfortunately i did not have a sharp mind like yours. I must day its a tricky web you've weaved around yourself and others. What will you tell Di, Dadiji and the twins?” Khushi looked worried “ I never thought it will come to this so soon. Can we keep this from them for a few more days? I know with Anjaliji being better now the need for a governess will be over and i may have to leave anyways. I don't want to hurt them unnecessarily” Arnav sighed and sat down next to her, he held her face in her hands “I don't care who you are or what your reasons were to come here. I just know that i want to be with you and that means i'll take you the way you are; who you are and what you do does not matter to me. You were the angel who got happiness in my life, my di and her kids life. You have the kindest heart and purest soul. I don't care about anything else” with that he kissed her full on the lips. This was a kiss of possession and khushi responded with equal ardor. Hearing him say those words had made her heart complete. She knew she loved him and more than anything wanted to be with him. She pulled him close to her and whispered in his ears, please stay with me tonight, don't go. Arnav got up and took off his shirt, he got into bed with her and switched off the bedside lamp. He took her flush against him with her head resting snugly against his chest and her arms around him. They both did not want anything else that night, being in each others arms was enough, free of secrets and full of happy thoughts they fell into a peaceful sleep.
In mumbai at midnight a man in a crisp suit walked to room no 276 of Trident hotel on marine drive. He had a briefcase with him which he held on to nervously. He knocked on the room and waited for a response. A middle aged man very obviously asleep opened the door in his robe. The man with the briefcase extended the bag and said with a sweet saccharine smile “ A gift from Mr Arnav Singh Raizada of VBR Group of Companies. I hope you understand?” the man in the robe opened the briefcase and nodded his thanks. He closed the door with a bang in the other mans face. The man in the suit started walking towards the lift, he made a quick call before getting it “Mission accomplished sir.” On the other side Sheena & Shyam clinked their champagne glasses together.