'Back to Square One...Scratch that...Zero!'
Arnav woke up feeling utterly refreshed, he felt like today was the start of something new...something good. As he stepped into the shower, he remembered his talk with khushi the night before; He had fought his emotions too hard till now to keep everything inside...but her soft words and even softer touch had been his undoing.The way he opened up to her...the way she told him about her past...he felt his chest tighten as he recollected all the things she had told him..how her b****d of a father had left her...how she had struggled on her own to reach this position today.
He could not understand the odd pride and possessiveness he felt for her...like when she had spoken of a complicated relationship and boyfriend...he really wanted to believe she was joking..in fact his mind did not even give him the option to think before declaring that she was single..he didn't even think twice before asking her out for the gala...Oh Shit! He had asked her out to the gala..what was wrong with him!
He remembered her shocked face just before he left her, not wanting to hear her response to his question...ok, it was more of a statement, not a request...Plus he knew she would be shocked and surprised. After all its not every day that a girl gets asked out by Arnav Raizada for one of the finest balls of the year.
He hummed as he got ready in record time and walked out of his room to go downstairs, when he heard some voices coming from anaya's room. He remembered his resolution to mend his ways with his daughter and he wanted to start right away. He could not bear to think that his daughter was rebelling for his attention.
He knocked lightly on anaya's door before opening it and walked in to find maggie braiding anaya's hair. Maggie looked at arnav with amusement while anaya had a slightly shocked face "Arnav..did you want something?" maggie asked warmly to which arnav cleared his voice "Uh..no..i'm just leaving for office..thought i'll say bye to you girls.." he said as both anaya and maggie looked at him with their mouths hanging open.
Arnav looked at the comical scene they made before giving them a bemused smile "What?.." he asked as anaya piped up "Pa..you are in my room to say bye?" she asked incredulously to which arnav nodded his head "yeah...why is that so shocking?" he asked as anaya jumped off the bed and came to stand in front of him, she calmed down, realizing the mad excitement she had just shown "N..nothing pa..bye..see you in the evening?" she said uncertainly.
Arnav felt his eyes fill up looking at his daughter's enthusiasm..had he really put her through so much sorrow..had he really distanced himself from her so much that the mere thought of him coming to her room to say a goodbye was a shocking as well as a happy incident for his daughter. He looked at his angel before coming forward and enveloping her in a warm hug, he kissed the top of her head with half done braids and said softy "Bye baccha..see you in the evening" before winking at maggie and stepping out.
'Pick you up at 7:30..as if!' khushi thought as she gulped down the tea HP had got for her. She looked nervously at the other end of the room which was visible from the dining area. She wanted to leave as soon as she had woken up, but maggie had insisted on her eating some breakfast. Shilpa di's husband Navin bhaiyya was coming anytime to pick her up since she was strictly instructed by her friend, not to trudge alone amongst the aftermath of last nights rainstorm.
She finished sipping the hot tea quickly, the heat burning her tongue..but she did not care. She had to leave this house before he walks down..She still could not believe the events that had occurred last night...she was glad that she could finally get through to Arnav Raizada..but the last few minutes she spent with him after she told him about her life...that was what had kept her awake all night...he had asked...no not asked, but demanded her out!
Agreed that he affected her a bit...ok more than a bit...fine! He affected her a lot! But that does not mean he just assumes that she cannot have a man in her life...or a mad possessive boyfriend...! Hah! She'll obviously deny the date...or whatever it was! But the thought of going to the gala with him...on his arm, was just so tempting..what would happen if she went? Will they wine and dine..will they dance...will they kis.. "Earth to Khushi!" arnav spoke making her jump as she quickly returned to the present...her cheeks burning with the images she was just picturing in her mind.
"G..good morning Mr Raizada" she said quickly as she looked up to find him staring at her, with a smirk. 'Damn that smirk!' she thought as he looked at her intently, 'Oh how she could drown in those lips..' khushi thought as arnav snapped a finger in front of her "Looks like you've taken to day dreaming khushi..and what's with the Mr Raizada? I think we were pretty clear about where we stand yesterday?" he said confidently as khushi looked anywhere but at him.
"Uh..yes..I know what we spoke about last night...but...if i'm correct it was you who suggested that, not me...I..I mean, i am your child's teacher aan..and i think we should maintain that respect...uh discipline.." khushi stammered as arnav looked at her with a bewildered expression, 'What the hell was she on about?..did he just dream about all that had happened last night!' arnav thought as he looked at her fidget away...'she might be nervous' he thought as he gave her an odd look.
"Listen, khushi...I.." he started saying as she quickly cut him off "Thanks for letting me stay Mr Raizada...i'll be going now...No school today..saturday and all..." she laughed nervously "I'll discuss anaya's progress with Mrs D'souza on monday and she'll get back to you on our next plan of action...i..i mean i think we have made a lot of progress with anaya...so..yes...umm..i'll be going now...see you" she said hurriedly picking up her bag and getting up from the dining table.
"What the!" Arnav said aloud as khushi tried to scamper off "Ms Gupta! Hold it right there!" he said sternly as her body came to an abrupt stop... "What the hell is going on here? Is this because I asked you out for the gala? Listen..if" he started saying as khushi held up her hand "No..no...I mean no way...it's nothing...anyways I wasn't coming for it...so...its nothing. I'm just really late and I have a lot of work to do today...so" she said trying to come up with any excuse to avoid talking to him or about the gala
"Excuse me!" arnav said as he neared her "What do you mean you were not coming for the gala anyway? Ms Gupta I only asked you out because anaya suggested it...you remember? At the dinner table? I wanted to make her happy by taking you along with me...since SHE asked for it" he said trying to control his voice
"Khushi...Ms Gupta, you are just my daughter's teacher and now her councillor of sorts...yes we had a moment yesterday when we both spoke about our painful pasts...but maybe that was because we both have gone through a lot...so we understood each other...that was all!" he said a little annoyed as khushi backed up a little bit with arnav stepping more towards her.
As they continued their forward and backward stepping game, khushi's back collided with the cool wall behind her, giving her no way to escape from under his molten eyes "Get this straight Ms Gupta...I can take whoever i want! The best supermodels...the most famous actresses and socialites...I don't have to beg for a date from anyone...least of all you ms gupta, Understood!" he said coldly as she felt her anger rise, her eyes shooting hot coals.
Arnav closed his eyes as realized he had gone too far. But this woman was driving him mad!'Fine so he had asked her out because he wanted to...but he'll be damned to admit that...' he opened his eyes to find himself standing too close to her, hardly an inch separated him. Khushi took a deep breath and said in a controlled voice "Crystal"
Arnav stepped back from her as he saw her look at him with hurt and contempt "You know what? For a moment yesterday i thought i was wrong about you...i thought that you were someone who hid your real self very well..this arrogance and rudeness was just a mask for you...but i'm glad that you have proved me wrong..i was right Mr Raizada...you are an arrogant, rude, egotistical man who cannot think about anyone but himself!" she said as she stood ramrod straight and looked him in the eye.
"You say you want to help your daughter, but you don't even try to let go of your past which will never let you live your present the way you should..loving your daughter!! But who am I to teach you about love? I am just a teacher right? Yes...I am just a teacher, but at least i'm not dwelling in the past like you...I am a much stronger and better person than you are Mr Raizada!" she said in a calm voice as arnav looked on
"You know why I can understand Anaya so well? Because I have lived all my life without a mother's love and a father who never wanted me! And you...you have everything in this world...love, respect, admiration...but what do you do?? you live in the bloody past and kick every good thing that comes your way...If you think making all of anaya's wishes come true...even a sad little request like taking her teacher to a dance with you, will make her happy..think again!" khushi said as she suddenly felt tired.
"The only reason i did not want to go to the dance with you was because you did not even consider asking me properly...you just assumed that I had no one in my life and would be so honored to go to the dance...you just stated what you thought...but you know what? You are right...i'm just your daughter's teacher...not some supermodel or actress who you should be taking with you instead. So I apologize on behalf of your daughter for suggesting you take me which compelled you to ask me out in lieu of that suggestion" khushi said breathing hard. She really wanted to leave this place.
She picked up her bag and checked her phone to see if Navin had called her. She started walking towards the door without giving a backward glance to Arnav, hoping her stupid heart would get back to beating in its old slower rhythm. She was just about to open the door when the bell rang. "Khushi" she heard arnav say behind her. She pulled back her hand from the door and looked back as arnav came and stood in front of her while HP hurriedly proceeded to open the door.
"Listen khushi...i'm.." arnav started saying when a deep male voice boomed from the main door "Sweetheart!" arnav and khushi both looked at the door to find HP holding the door open to a tall, well-built, good looking man. Arnav was just about to ask who the hell was he calling a sweetheart when khushi walked past him towards the stranger "Navin! I was waiting for your call...did you find the address easily?" she asked softly as the man called navin walked in and threw his big burly arm around khushi's delicate shoulders while giving her an odd expression.
"Yep i did...not that difficult to spot this gorgeous villa" he said as he turned towards arnav "Hi...i'm Navin.." he started saying as khushi cut him off "Navin..why don't you start the car..i'll be right out" she said as navin gave her a confused look but did what she said. Khushi then turned towards arnav and said in a cool voice "I will be requesting Mrs D'Souza to keep my future sessions with anaya at the school only...You won't be seeing me gracing my presence in your home anymore! Goodbye Mr Raizada" she said as she walked out of the house and into the waiting car which navin was driving.
To say arnav was going through a cocktail of emotions...would be an understatement! One part anger at the truth in her accusations, two parts of guilt for the way he behaved with her, Topped up with utter mad jealousy when he saw that Navin guy holding her and calling her sweetheart...a shot of helplessness as khushi seemed to say a final goodbye to him...and a spritz of an unknown feeling of having lost something very precious...something which was indescribable...and finally a drop of confusion about khushi's status...single?in a relationship?complicated? Married? Damn! Who was this Navin? He wished he had a Facebook account!