It was a week since the Guptas had arrived. The formal engagement ceremony was now formally over. The rings had been exchanged, the drinks drunk, the couple toasted, songs sung and the hoopla finally over. The guests had gone and peace had once more descended on Raizada House.
Arnav wandered out to the pool area with a glass of warm milk in his hand. He had a pensive look in his eyes as he stood by the pool sipping his milk. He loved the stillness of the early hours of the morning. It was too early for dawn, but he doubted he would get any sleep now - warm milk or no warm milk. He sat down, relaxed on the lounger, just letting his mind go blank and focusing on nothing.
The first step towards the wedding was complete. At least nothing untoward had happened. The security provided by the police seemed to have worked well. But then, this had been a small, fairly intimate affair - with mostly family and close friends only. NK and Jamie would be arriving the day after - no, tomorrow, he amended. It was already the next day! At least, he would have someone else sharing his foremost concern - Khushi’s safety. Bhardwaj had come for the party and briefly updated him on their investigation. Now that it was in the CBI’s hands, he was a little less tense about it. But it wouldn’t go away. The niggling worry that something might happen stayed there like an itchy scab. As long as there was danger to her, and somehow he knew there was, he couldn’t rest easy.
A reflection by the other side of the pool caught his peripheral vision. He turned his head. Khushi stood there in a pair of simple pyjamas, covered modestly with a robe, her face turned up to the heavens. Her arms were wrapped around her waist as she hugged herself in the cool morning breeze. She hadn’t seen him as the lounger was in the shadows. The lights from the pool reflected off her face. There seemed to be something wistful in her eyes. He stood up and she started at the movement.
‘Oh! you. You startled me.’
‘Quiet time?’ his husky voice stroking her skin like velvet. ‘What were you thinking?’
She smiled at him, a quiet serene smile. ‘Nothing much. Nothing at all.’
He walked over to her. Taking her hand, he led her back to the lounger. He sat down with his legs on either side, and she sat down in front of him facing forward, leaning back until she lay on his chest. She could hear the slow thumping of his heart under her head. He put his legs up on the lounger next to hers, one leg bent at the knee. He laced his fingers through hers, resting them on her waist and sighed.
‘What’s wrong?’ she almost whispered.
He leaned forward and kissed her neck where it joined her shoulder sending a frisson of pleasure through her.
‘Nothing,’ he said. ‘Nothing at all.’
They lay there in silence, looking up at the stars. He moved her hair back from her face, tilting her chin up so he could kiss her. His lips feathered across hers, and she opened them. He sat up and twisted her around so she faced him now. He deepened the kiss, tongue stroking across her tongue. His hands rubbed her back, coming up to stroke her throat with his thumbs, just behind her ears, his big hands holding her head steady while he deepened the kiss even more. Her hands came up, stroking his neck, moving forwards and dipping into the vee of his shirt’s neckline, sliding along his collarbone, dipping lower to his smooth chest. She tilted her head back and his lips grazed across her neck, his tongue leaving a line of fire behind her ear. Her hands tugged at the waistline of his shirt, pulling them out of his pants, running up his taut abs and stomach.
‘Shit!’ he whispered, laughing a little.
‘What?’ She drew back, her eyebrows raised in question. He gestured with his eyes to her clothes. A smile crossed her lips. ‘Sorry’.
He reached for another kiss, lying down, taking her with him, his arms firmly around her, until she was on top of him. ‘No need,’ he whispered. One long leg slinging across the back of her legs. He looked at her face above him. Her hair falling in a curtain around them. A private little world in which just the two of them were there. He cupped her face, searching it, searching inside himself to understand why she was becoming so important to him. He kissed her again, a deep searching kiss that she gave back to, her hunger evident in the small moan that came he drew from her throat. His breathing was getting erratic as her lips made their way down his throat. He knew he had to stop now, before she felt the effect she was having on him.
He sat up again, breaking off the kiss. He shook his head, ‘we have to stop, Khushi,’ he whispered. She sat with her head bowed, feeling a little ashamed at having let go so completely, her face burning.
He lifted up her chin with one hand, looking into her eyes, reading the embarrassment in them. ‘Khushi, what we did just now, its nothing to be ashamed of.’ Her eyes flicked to his, wondering how he knew exactly what she was feeling. She nodded, eyes still fixed on him. He stood up, holding her hand, helping her to stand up as well.
Thank God, otherwise she would have been flopping at his feet like a wet towel, she thought.
He kissed her forehead, and then watched as she went back around the poolside to her room. Khushi entered her room and sat down on the bed. What just happened? For a week they had been so caught up in the engagement and all the activities surrounding it, that they had barely seen each other, much less spoken to each other. And then today, it was like ... fire! She jumped up and went to the washroom. She stood in front of the mirror, her hands raking through her hair, pulling it back, the bright red flags on her cheeks clearly visible. Her cheeks felt hot. She splashed some cold water on her face, hoping to cool it down a little. Patting her face dry she looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were sparkling, and her cheeks were still a little pink. It’s the stubble, she thought in horror. Oh. My. God. It’s concealer time tomorrow! and then she smiled a little secret smile wondering if Arnav was feeling just as hot as she was.
If only she knew that Arnav Singh Raizada was at that moment heading into a very long, very cold shower.