He woke up with a smile on his face. It was the first time that he had slept so peacefully in weeks. That was when he felt the soft warm body cuddled against him. Both her arms were wound around his waist as her entire upper body lay atop his chest. Her right leg was between his strong legs, while her left leg lay next to his on the bed. Her long ebony hair flailed the pillow behind her as she continued to sleep.
Both his arms wound about her, holding her close to himself protectively. Disengaging one of his hands from around her, he ran his fingers through her long hair possessively. He felt her rub her nose against his chest as the activity disturbed her.
She was absolutely lovely, in every way possible. He couldn’t imagine why he’d want to part from her at all? Things sure were muddled up, and didn’t add up. But he didn’t want to think about that right now and ruin the moment. Plus the doctor had told him not to. There’d be enough time for explanations later on. Rather than dwelling on what he didn’t know, he should consider what he did. He hadn’t become one of the richest business tycoons in India by getting fooled by people and situations. He could assess and differentiate lies from the truth. And something about Khushi told him that no matter what the facts were, no matter what anybody said, she didn’t have it in her to lie and deceive anyone. The innocence in her eyes, the aura of naivety about her spoke much more than mere documents filed in a dossier. And maybe if he got to know her much better, he’d eventually figure out the situation, ‘cause it didn’t look like she’d tell him anything herself.
“Arnav..” he heard her mumble as she started to squirm against him. After shuffling about on his chest for a couple of minutes she clutched his shoulders and pulled herself up to rest her elbows atop his chest, rubbing her eyes with her palms.
Warmth spread through him as he watched her rub the sleep out of her eyes like a child. He gently brushed the hair covering her face aside, as she looked up at him and gave him a radiant smile.
“Good morning” she chimed groggily.
“Good morning.” He whispered back, running his hand through her hair as he tried to put them in order.
She folded her hands on his chest as she put her chin to rest atop them. They both looked into each other’s eyes as their breaths mingled with each other’s.
“Khushi” he whispered.
“Arnav” she whispered back as she smiled down at him. Then cupping his face in her hands she gently rubbed her thumb against his cheek. “How are you feeling now? Any more nightmares?” she asked, her voice laden with concern.
“No.” he answered, looking into her worrisome eyes. “It seems like I’ve found the solution to those.” He spoke gripping her firmly to himself.
“Tell me what happened? What happened in the dream?”
He looked up at her thoughtfully, his expression going grim as he recalled the dreams.
Khushi’s face fell as she saw his eyes stone up once again as reluctance crept into them. It had always been hard getting through to him, but all the years of acquaintance had created a soft spot in his heart for her. Everything that they had been through together, all the pain that they had endured, and all the misery that he had put her through had kept him tender and yielding towards her. He had always regretted his actions during the Shyam fiasco, and had thus always been extra sensitive towards her emotions and feelings. But now all that history no more existed for him. Hence, she had to undertake the journey to his heart once again. Yes, the love, the attachment still existed, but its realisation didn’t. He felt a pull towards her, but did not know the reason behind it.
Arnav saw her eyes glaze over at his cold refusal. The tears threatened to fall down the sides when she turned away from him and made to get out of the bed.
“I’ll go and see to the breakfast” she spoke in a morose tone as she avoided his eyes, collected the sheets around herself and got up.
“Where’s everybody else?” he asked her as he made his way into the kitchen where she was making his breakfast.
“I don’t know. It looks like no one except for us is at home. I asked Hari Prakash, and he said that the watchman had seen them all leave in the middle of the night while he was on duty. They had said that they’ll be back in the evening today.”
“That’s odd. They should’ve informed us before going away. At least Di should’ve told me!”
“Oddities Arnav! Forget it! Have your breakfast, you’ve got a meeting with Ritu Kumar at eleven. You don’t want to get late.” She spoke as she made to cut across him and move to the other side of the kitchen when he held her back.
Pulling her to himself and trapping her in his arms he looked into her eyes as he caressed her cheek. “It’s the same dream every night.” He spoke in a strained voice. Khushi looked up at him in startlement. She did not expect him to open up to her that soon into this new relationship, but guess not everything can be wiped away with amnesia.
A faraway look entered his eyes as he continued to look into her eyes, and yet gazed into nothing in particular. Looking forlorn, he began in a hoarse voice.
“Di is lying strewn across the floor. Her cast has been removed and thrown across the room. She’s crying bitterly. Asking me to get up and save someone. Praying for my and someone else’s safety.”
Khushi felt a chill run up her spine as Arnav choked in his struggle to continue. Dread filled her as he continued to narrate the story.
“I am cropped up against the couch. I think we’re in the living room. I’m completely incapacitated, can’t even move. It’s almost like I have no energy left in myself, something that happens when I have an attack of hypoglycaemia. Then my vision goes hazy and I can’t see anything clearly anymore. Di’s still crying. And then…” he stopped as he felt Khushi shudder in his arms. He looked down at her as he saw the frightened expression on her face.
“What’s wrong? Is everything alright?”
“What happens next?” she asked him fearfully.
“But why do you look so scared? I…”
“But why do you look so scared? I…”
“What happened next Arnav?” she all but screamed, terrified. She had a sinking feeling that she knew where this was going. What he had been dreaming about.
“I…I felt someone shove something down my throat, imploring me to eat it.” He continued as she prodded him on. “And then that person screamed in pain. I don’t know what was happening very clearly, but I was very afraid. It was like something terrible was going to happen. And then a sickening voice said…”
“Khushi Ji” she completed for him.