Sunday, November 11, 2012

Walk the Line - Chapter 53

She stood there staring at the door, shocked. Did he just say what she thought he said? That he loved her and wanted to marry her? She walked around the room in a daze, blowing out the candles. Then she picked up her clutch and went to her room.

Had he really said that? Did she just goof up again? She groaned in frustration at herself. Taking out her nightwear, she changed into it, still in a state of shock. She climbed into her bed, and turned off the light. Cool moonlight streamed in through the windows. She lay there eyes wide open, his words ringing in her ears.

Tears of happiness leaked down her eyes. She loved him. He loved her. He loved HER. Arnav Singh Raizada had just said he LOVED her. She sat up hugging her knees, her heart beating heavily in her chest.

True happiness is a strange thing. It seeps inside you, and brings you peace and a deep inner contentment that is hard to explain. It doesn’t make you throw your arms out and scream and dance with joy. It just brings a glow to your face and a smile that starts in the heart and graces your face. Khushi was smiling through her tears. Her heart was smiling. She couldn’t wait to tell him.

She moved to get off her bed, when she heard the front door shut quietly. She got out of bed and walked into the living room. Moonlight came in through the French windows giving her enough light to see by. The living room was empty. The door to his room stood open. She went in and saw the bed, sheets rumpled, pillows bunched. There was no light under the bathroom door either. Arnav had just gone out. She walked back into the living room and noticed the envelope on the table. She picked it up, and the rose, and curled into an armchair, turning on the lamp next to it, to look at the card inside. Her name was written on the first page. ‘Khushi.’ It was written in his scratchy writing. ‘You complete me.’ She turned the page. ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ The next page. ‘Would you do that?’. The next page. ‘.. With me?’ At the bottom. ‘Arnav.’

A smile came on her lips as she kissed the rose. Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada could actually be mushy! she thought. This was so not him. And yet, he’d thought of it, because he thought she would like it. She sat there, in her white see-through negligee, smiling happily to herself. At peace, finally. She reached out and turned off the lamp, waiting for him to come back. At some point, she dozed off.

****

Arnav drove to the beach and parked his car. Getting out, he walked down to the water. He stood there, looking at the ocean. The phosphorescence from the water illuminating each cresting wave. The full moon high in the sky lit a silvery path on the water to the horizon. The thundering of the waves calmed him down.

What had he gone and done? He had wanted it to be perfect. The date. Dinner. A walk on the beach. The candles. The roses. The Card. And he’d ruined it all with his temper. He wished he’d been able to keep it in check, but she had pushed him. A vision of her in the dress she wore tonight came unbidden to his mind. She’d looked so beautiful, so sexy that he’d already had a hard time keeping his hands to himself. Then the whole fiasco with the lead singer - Jerry, Jermaine.. whatever! He sighed, tucking his hands in his pockets.

She hadn’t said anything. But then, he’d not even looked at her, much less given her time to think about what to say. From the moment he’d met her, he’d known she was something different. He hadn’t known when she’d made such a home in his heart. In fact, she’d shown him that he had a heart. Love had walked in, and he had been lost from that point on.

They’d go back tomorrow, first thing. He decided. He wouldn’t push it. He couldn’t. It had to be her decision now, where she wanted them to go from here. He turned around and got back to his car.

He opened the door to the suite very quietly, not wanting to disturb her. A flash of white caught the corner of his vision. She was asleep curled into a chair, the moonlight falling on her, her hands clutching the rose and the card, a smile on her face. She would be uncomfortable all night in it, he thought.

He walked over to her, crouching down in front of the chair, his palm cupping her face. ‘Khushi?’

She opened her eyes sleepily and looked at him. The moonlight darkened the faint shadow on his jaws. ‘Arnav,’ she whispered. Her eyes searched his face as she straightened up.

‘Let’s get you to bed,’ was all he said in a low voice.

She reached out a hand and touched his cheek. Her fingers moving over the planes and angles of his face. His eyes narrowed and burnt with an intensity she’d never seen in them. She leaned forward and kissed those eyes that could look into her soul. He closed them, swallowed and looked at her as she moved away, both her hands on his face now, the card on her lap.

‘I love you, too,’ she said. His heart stopped for a second, waiting for her to finish. She looked down, picked up the card and said, ‘yes,’ before leaning into the kiss she’d been craving for weeks now.

He couldn’t believe it. She was taking the initiative, kissing him, her lips sucking his lower lip into her mouth. He closed his eyes in bliss. Giving her all of him in that kiss, his arms going around her. He drew back and stood up, scooping her up in his arms, hers going around his neck, one hand curling around his neckline. He didn’t take his eyes off her as he walked to the couch and sat down with her in his lap. His fingers trailed across her face, pushing her hair back so he could see the soft smile on it. He trailed the back of his hand along her bare arm, noticing the goosebumps he left in his wake, traveling to her bare shoulders and the low dip of her lacy neckline.

He kissed her then, pouring his heart into it, his love into it, his tongue dancing over her tongue, feeling her kissing him back, her fingers digging into her hair. His hands traveled down her waist finding the edge of her nightie, moving further down her bare legs and walking back up up again. He couldn’t stop himself from getting aroused as she squirmed in his lap, her breasts covered only by the thin silk, pressing into his cotton clad chest. He brought his hand up to her back and finally broke the kiss, breathing deeply to steady his heart.

‘Did you just say yes?’ he asked.

She nodded, her arms still around his neck, caressing the back of it. He finally smiled and said, ‘wait here,’ before moving her off his lap onto the couch. He went to his room and came back in a few minutes. Kneeling beside the couch, he took her hand in his and said, ‘Khushi Kumari Gupta, will you marry me and complete my life?’

Teas sprung into her eyes. She put her other hand on his face and nodded. ‘Yes, I will.’

He put his hand in his pocket and took it out. In it lay a beautiful diamond ring set in platinum. The band split into four bands forming a double ringed oval, each covered in tiny diamonds. In the center of the oval was a little star, holding a small blood red ruby at the very center. She gasped in delight as the moonlight shone on it, throwing a thousand sparkles around them. He took her hand and placed the ring on her finger.

She watched him, his head bent, intent on his task. She’d never, ever thought she’d get engaged in a nightie in the middle of the night, but here she was! He looked up then at her face, and kissed the hand that wore his ring, his mark on her. Sliding onto the couch he looked at her as she examined the ring. He was a little anxious but hoping she’d like it. ‘Do you like it?’ he asked.

‘It’s perfect!’ she said, launching herself at him, arms around his neck, hugging him, laughing with joy. He laughed then, too, relieved to finally have done it, hugging her tightly.

The imp opened a bottle of champagne, poured himself a glass, thought the better of it, and swigged straight from the bottle.

‘Wait,’ he said, getting up and turning on a lamp. She watched him walk over to a corner table and only now saw it. The bottle of champagne sitting in an ice-bucket, and the two flute glasses next to it. He opened he bottle, and poured them each a glass, bringing it back to her. She took a glass as he sat down. ‘To forever,’ he said, ‘with you.’

‘With you,’ she echoed before sipping her drink, neither of them taking their eyes off each other. He leaned back against the side of the couch, beckoning her to come next to him. She scooted over, into the crook of his arm, sipping champagne and just looking at each other.

‘Tell me something,’ he said. ‘Are all your clothes like this? I’ve never seen you dress like this before.’

She bit her bottom lip and grinned. ‘Punishment,’ she whispered.

He raised his eyebrows and nodded his head. ‘I see.’

‘Why are we in different rooms?’ she asked.

‘Punishment,’ he replied with a smirk.

‘What?’ She sat up, but he pulled her back down.

‘I promised your parents. Nothing is going to happen this weekend.’ His eyes wandered suggestively down to her chest, where her erect nipples were clearly visible against the silk. ‘Your dressing this way isn’t helping at all.’

She blushed and hid her face in the crook of his neck, hearing his laugh rumble through his chest. ‘You’re a monster,’ she mumbled.

‘I know.’ They sat there just basking in the moment, before he said. ‘Let’s get you some clothes tomorrow,’ he suggested, ‘before I break my promise.’

They sat there for a long time, talking all the nonsense that lovers do after their first admission of love. Murmurs and kisses exchanged, caresses lighting fires, but kept in control. They fell asleep in each other’s arms, right there on the couch.

****

The next morning, Khushi dressed in the single pair of jeans that she had brought and used the jacket to cover up the spaghetti straps of her top. They wandered through the streets of Carmel, picking up a new pair of capris for her, and a beautiful top to go with it, along with a bunch of other clothes. Arnav was actually enjoying himself just watching her trying on the clothes. He’d never have thought shopping for clothes would give him such pleasure. He felt something new - a masculine pride every time he spotted that ring on her finger, in the knowledge that this woman was now his - to have and to hold, forever.

They drove down to the Big Sur, walking through the trails hand in hand, discovering things about each other, talking to each other like they’d never talked before. Long conversations about their hopes and dreams and a future that suddenly sparkled like the diamonds in her ring. They’d decided to keep the day to themselves. Time enough to tell everybody when they returned to San Francisco.

After lunch they decided to go down to the beach for a walk. They’d both worn shorts and had waded into the water. Arms around each other, they stopped to kiss, as the waves curled around their legs.

She looked out at the ocean and said, ‘every time I used to look at the ocean, I would think of you.’

‘Why?’

‘You’re deep and mysterious. Yet sometimes, you crashed against me like these waves and then went away again.’

He smiled. ‘You do know Arnav means Ocean, don’t you?’

She nodded, ‘I looked it up. The very first day I met you.’ She blushed. He hugged her.

That evening, she put on the sari she had brought, but used a silk crocheted triangular shawl over it, to hide her back. They’d picked it up during her shopping spree, the delicate filigree pattern had caught her eye. He’d insisted on getting it for her. Tonight, they had eyes only for each other, and no matter who was looking at them, they had shut out the world as only lovers know how to do.

***

NK called them as they were on the road back to San Francisco, to let them know that they were having a barbecue that day, and the two of them could join them, IF they wanted to that is. His suggestive tone had left them both grinning.

‘NK,’ Arnav said. ‘We have to talk. I have some news for you. Khushi wants to marry the NRI.’

‘What?!’ yelped NK. ‘But how can that be?’

‘I’ll come and tell you all about it,’ said Arnav, hitting the end button.

‘Poor NK,’ Khushi collapsed with laughter on his arm.

‘That story he told me,’ Arnav smiled.

‘You were jealous?’

‘No,’ he glanced at her. ‘Yeah,’ reluctantly.

‘I like it when you’re jealous,’ she said.

‘Not me. I don’t like being jealous at all,’ he replied.

‘You have nothing to be jealous about,’ she wrapped her fingers around his arm and laid her head against it.

‘I know,’ softly. He knew. No mistrusts. No doubts. Just certainty. This was love.

They drew up to her house and he helped carry her stuff inside, but didn’t take it up to her room. He didn’t want to be anywhere near a bed when she was around. Two days of being with her and not being able to do anything about it, was eating at him.

They drove over to NK’s house and went inside. The barbecue was out in the back and everyone greeted the two of them as they walked out to the deck. Khushi had taken off the ring and tucked it into her pocket. They’d wanted to tell her parents first before anybody else.

Arnav accepted a beer from NK and threw an arm around his shoulder. ‘So, NK,’ he began. ‘NRI, hmm?’

‘Sorry, Nannav. Lavanya said that you were getting to be impossible to work with. I had to do something.’

‘Lavanya?’ Arnav raised an eyebrow.

‘Yeah. She and I, well, we’ve kept in touch.’ Was NK blushing?

‘I see.’ He nodded sagely. ‘You’re talking to my employees. About me. Behind my back?’ His fingers gripped NK’s shoulder tightly, making him squirm.

‘Nannav, the thing is, I really like Lavanya. But then she said you’re always angry and shouting. I knew it had to do with Khushi, so ... I got you here.’ He smiled brightly. ‘You’re the NRI I was talking about! And see you’re here in the US and you came to see her!’ Arnav’s fingers were clawing into NK’s shoulder now as he smiled at his cousin. Then he let him go.

‘Yeah. I’m here. And she wants to marry the NRI.’ He turned and walked away, a wicked grin on his face.

NK stared open-mouthed at his retreating back, scratching his head, wondering what had gone wrong. What NRI was Nannav talking about?

Arnav found Shashi Gupta sitting and talking to Mr. Dutt in the living room.

‘Arnav,’ Shashi smiled at him. ‘Come, join us.’

‘Actually, I would like to talk to you, alone, if I may,’ he said quietly, feeling incredibly nervous now.

Shashi nodded.

‘Use my study,’ offered NK’s father. He had an inkling of what the conversation was about to be, but he respected the young man in front of him for doing things the right way. Although a weekend away was a bit unconventional, in his book.

Shashi turned to him and said, ‘can you please send Anna and Khushi in as well?’ He nodded.

Arnav and Shashi waited in the study for the women to show up. Arnav was tensed up, nothing in life prepares you for this moment, he thought. Absolutely nothing! No amount of presentations, big conferences, key note addresses, nothing!

Anna and Khushi walked in, and he walked over to them, reaching out and taking Khushi’s left hand tightly in his.

Suddenly he was calm, her touch soothing away his tension. ‘Mr. Gupta, Mrs. Gupta, Khushi has promised to marry me.’ They both smiled at him, encouraging him to go on. ‘I’d like to formally ask for your permission to marry her, sir, ma’am,’ he concluded.

‘Of course, my boy. You know you have it,’ Shashi smiled. Khushi looked at her parents astonished! When had they? She looked back at him.

‘I want to take her back home with me, if that’s okay with you,’ he said, looking at Khushi with a smile in his eyes. He could feel the ring on her finger and his thumb caressed it. She'd slipped it back on before entering the room. ‘As my wife,’ he finished.

Anna jumped up from the sofa she’d been sitting on to hug her daughter, tears of joy shining in her eyes. ‘My darling, I’m am so happy for you.’ She leaned back and looked at the radiance on her daughter’s face and said, ‘and I know you’re going to be very happy with him,’ kissing her on her cheek.

Khushi and Arnav touched first Shashi’s feet and then Anna’s to take their blessing, being hugged by both of them in turn. Khushi showed them the engagement ring that he’d put on her finger and the sheer joy on her parents face made her doubly happy. She felt like the luckiest person alive!

Shashi and Anna left the study expecting the two to follow them, but Arnav held her back and closed the door.

‘What?’ she said. He kissed her hard.

‘When did you tell my parents?’ she asked when she could breathe.

‘Thursday night,’ he was kissing her neck.

‘What?’ she moaned.

‘Shhh...’ he placed a finger on her lips. ‘You and I are getting married this week, okay? And you’re coming back with me to India.’

She nodded, her soft lips rubbing against his calloused finger, and he promptly replaced his finger with his lips, devouring her mouth with all the hunger in his soul. She fed him back with her mouth, matching him stroke for stroke, passion for passion.

They finally came up for air, and she said, ‘we should go outside.’ He nodded taking a few seconds to compose himself, before holding her hand and leading her out.

Shashi and Anna had reached the deck and realized that neither Arnav nor Khushi were with them. She shook her head at him. Let them be for a few minutes. You know how it is. He smiled back at her. Yes, I do. She blushed.

When they came out, Shashi stood up and said, ‘All. I’ve an announcement to make.’

NK was on the phone to Lavanya, telling her about the dismal failure of his plan, when he heard Shashi’s voice. ‘Lavanya, darling, I’ll call you back in a bit. Shashi uncle seems to have some sort of announcement to make.’ He turned around and watched as Shashi continued.

‘I’d like to welcome Arnav here to the family. Arnav and Khushi have just gotten engaged,’ he said, as cheering and whistling broke out from all sides. Arnav looked down feeling a little awkward being the center of attention, but he figured, for her, his wife, he’d do anything. Even take this. He listened as his future father-in-law completed his little spiel. ‘So Arnav, welcome, my boy,’ (there were calls of ‘hear! hear!’). ‘I want to tell you, that both Anna and I are extremely happy for Khushi to have found her happiness with you. We couldn’t have found a better man for her.’ His voice choked. ‘My baby girl, we will miss you badly, but...’ he held out his arms, and Khushi ran into them, hugging her father. ‘We love you,’ he whispered.

Everybody crowded around the newly engaged couple, and the women ooh-ed and aah-ed over the ring. NK stood on the edge of the crowd still scratching his head at this turn of events.

Jaime came up to Arnav and clapped him on the shoulders. ‘Arnav. Thanks for taking my advice, bro. Congratulations.’ The two men clasped hands in mutual understanding. ‘I know you’ll take care of my sis.’

‘I will,’ he promised.

****

3 comments:

  1. It was a treat reading 2 chapters together!!!

    The confession & proposal was so ASR....an outburst....of love intermingled with jealousy, anger, frustration....

    Cant wait for the wedding.....

    ReplyDelete

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