Arnav had hardly slept a wink; he had been up all night creating a new character to replace his earlier protagonist in the story...he had been so excited by Khushi's suggestion that he had not wasted a second to dive right into it..working alongside his trusted researcher from 11 in the night till the wee hours of the morning to perfect the new character.
Once he was satisfied with the woman's profile and characterization, things just seemed to have fallen into place for him...as Khushi had suggested, the woman's instinct and sixth sense had opened up a lot of avenues for him, giving the story a supernatural edge which would definitely make this story very different from his earlier ones.
He had promptly fallen asleep on his laptop at roughly around 5:45 in the morning...and was now up at 9am, thanks to the loud chirping of a local bird that has made its way from the open balcony to perch itself somewhere above the wardrobe...its continuos chirping easing the sleep out of him.
"Damn..." he said as he stretched his arms above his head and let out a huge yawn to combat the cricks in his back and neck; he really could not remember the last time he had typed so crazily all through the night and fallen asleep in such a way. He closed his laptop screen making sure all the work had been saved and got up to stretch some more before shooing off the bird out of the room
He walked to the balcony and took in the early morning breeze as it ruffled his hair, the cool air taking away the last traces of sleep from his body. He smiled as he thought of the breakthrough he had had last night...at this pace, he could probably finish the novel in a week!
"So! What time did you finally sleep last night?" Khushi asked arnav sauntering into the dining area as Arnav was finishing gobbling up his hot upma...VK had said that Khushi had had an early breakfast as she had some work in town and had left around the time arnav had woken up
"Good morning to you too...why do you ask? I slept after I went to my room" he said as she sat opposite him and grabbed a banana from the fruit basket "Yeah right! I saw your room light on when I had gotten up in the middle of the night...it was around 3am then" she said as she peeled away the banana and took a tiny bite out of it
"Uh...yes, I got up again...remembered something that I needed to type up" he said eyeing her as she bit into the soft flesh of the fruit, her lips closing on it, a small bit left lingering on her bottom lip which she quickly flicked with her tongue...what was happening to him...even something as innocent as eating a fruit was making him uncomfortable around her...and it obviously did not help that the damn fruit was a banana
"Hey! Earth to Arnav!" she said grinning as she clicked her fingers in front of his eyes making him look up suddenly into her mirthful eyes "Where are you lost? Remembered something to type up again?..." she asked him as she flipped her long hair over one shoulder while finishing off her fruit "Something like that" he said looking away from her and into his plate
"Oh, did Chikappa inform you?" she asked him as he looked back at her inquisitively "Inform me? About what?" he asked her as she slapped her forehead "Arre...he is taking you to look at the other houses today...and don't worry, I'll give you a full refund today itself if you like" she said as arnav felt his stomach fall to his knees...'Shit! He was moving out today!'
"Oh yeah...ummm...I was thinking, these other houses...are they in the vicinity? Because I would prefer this kind of an atmosphere only...gives me more inspiration" he said as Khushi looked at him with amusement "Oh, I'm not sure...but as far as i know, there is only one house on this hill...which is this one...the other's would probably be on the neighboring one or lower yet" she said as arnav nodded
"Ok...fine, can you let him know that i'm ready to leave now? I have a lot of work to complete and it would be best if we have an early start" he said as he got up "Yep, i'll let him know right away...he'll meet you outside" she said as she collected the banana peel and plopped it on his used plate...the gesture so domesticated that it made him stare at her
"What? Your'e done with it right?" she said as she gave him a sweet smile and went in search of VK...a faint tinkling noise following her...which arnav noticed on closer inspection, came from a tiny payal dangling from her left ankle...'How could he leave this place now?
More than the place giving him inspiration it was its mistress who was responsible for it...suddenly realizing that he had more or less based his new character on her...right down to the single enchanting payal on her left foot...something he had noticed the day he had seen her under the sink...dammit!
"Make anything you want for lunch smitha, its his last meal here anyways" khushi said as she sat in the kitchen opening up old boxes of glassware that were stored lovingly in the attic by her grandmother...the beautiful pieces were rare and the handmade italian design made them worth a fortune in today's rate.
She quickly glanced up to find Smitha cleaning up a bitter gourd and made a face "When I said make anything, I did not make something like karela...lets give him one last decent meal" she said as smitha laughed "No khushi babyji, Arnav sir told me that karela is his favorite vegetable...so i thought of making it" she said as khushi's mouth opened in an 'o'
Figures! The man really was as bitter as a karela...no amount of sweetness could make his countenance slip, she could bet he was diabetic! It irked her to no end how he had readily agreed to leave with VK to look for another house...idiot!...she had made sure that he would have no complaints here...no noise, no unnecessary chats...nothing!...but still...
Fine! If he disliked staying here that much, she would not bother thinking about it...he can go a live in the freezing valley for all she cared! "Did you say something babyji?" Smitha asked her as khushi shook her head 'God! She was going mad thinking about him...her mind would not stop her from imagining him in another light...something which was impossible...
Yes she was attracted to him...stupid that she was...why was she attracted to mangly dogs, snotty kids and utterly boring men like Arnav!...Ok...he wasn't really boring...but serious...why did she not like men who were like her? Chatty and fun!! No...she had to go and feel butterflies in her stomach for someone like Arnav!Hmph..
But she knew that nothing could come out of it...she sighed as she recalled their conversation from the morning...he was leaving today...that was the end of it...whatever it was finished before it even started! Even she would finish up her work here and go back to planning weddings...other's weddings! She thought as the door bell broke her thoughts
"I'll get it" she said to Smitha who was busy putting masala's in the karela sabji...Khushi straightened her white dress as she quickly went and opened the door to find VK standing alone on the front porch "What happened Chikappa? He already shifted there? He did not even come back?" she asked in a distressed voice as VK looked on confused while arnav walked towards them from the side
"Nope! I'm right here...had gone to check up on your beloved guava tree" he said as she blushed and stepped aside to let both of them pass...she looked on as VK muttered something under his breath and made his way into the back of the house while arnav lingered near the door "Why do you look so worried? Did you really think I was that callous that I won't even come back for my stuff?" he asked as she blushed again and looked at him
"I wasn't concerned...I just thought it would be more work for me to send for your stuff...plus your laptop and all other things were here only..'" she said as he walked more towards her, the distance closing in on his every step "Exactly...so how could I not come back? Besides I did not find any other place as beautiful as this house" he said as khushi looked up to find him staring at her
"Oh..." she said as he took a few more steps towards her, leaving hardly a foot of a distance between them "Yes...oh...so, i decided that I will stay here only...I really did not have any complain or how do I put it...uh...distractions" he said remembering his conversation with manav last night "Hope that's ok with you" he said as he leaned towards her, his eyes on her parted lips
Khushi stood paralyzed as her body reacted in various different ways to his proximity...her heart beat raced, her lips quivered, her palms felt sweaty and her knees felt like jelly...he was staying back...here, in this house...she will see him everyday...the thought making her happy and nervous at the same time...she slowly licked her lips to moisten them from the sudden dryness that she had felt only to see him looking straight at them, his eyes darkening slightly
But before she could process her thought and answer him, he stepped back suddenly and ran a hand through his hair and looked away "Ok, so great...you are ok with it...I'll uh...i'll go and work now...see you at lunch" he said as he swiftly turned around on his heels and practically ran to his room...leaving a throughly bewildered Khushi behind, not sure what he was about to do a few seconds earlier...kiss her? Maybe?