Nandini was humming a beautiful melody to match with the song on the radio, while preparing for a grand welcome for Manik. After a hectic schedule of 2 weeks at Berlin, he was returning back to Paris, to her!!!
That too, just a day before his birthday!!
It had been one year and four months since they were married and still, it felt as if they had met just yesterday. Their life had been nothing less than a roller coaster, though an extremely exciting and thrilling one. Flashes of last one year ran through her mind. So did their beautiful trips – Lucerne, Engelberg, Barcelona and the last one taken six months ago – a beautiful vacation at Bahamas.
Life with Manik might not be perfect, but it had it’s own sweet and not so sweet moments. All in all, it was just as it should be. Just as she had wanted and imagined.
It was life – after all!
It had been going smooth since a few months. 2 weeks ago, Manik had to leave suddenly to sort some discrepancies and work-force related issues at their Berlin office. No one in their group was experienced enough to handle such a delicate matter which had caused a crucial emergency. And Manik didn’t want to trust anyone else. Berlin was an important location.
Dadu was not really doing well, these days. He had some blood pressure issues. So, Nandini decided to stay back and take care of dadu as well as Paris Head Office!! While Manik left for Berlin.
What was supposed to be a job of a couple of days, took 14 days… 2 weeks…
This was the longest they had stayed away from each other, after marriage…and they were missing each other like crazy…
She didn’t call him or text him during office hours as work should not get disturbed, she believed. He was thankful as being a workaholic, he too could focus on his work and didn’t have to deal with a nagging wife.
After work, leisure time was for each other. So, they talked for hours on the phone, sent messages and professed how much they were missing each other.
He had promised her that somehow he was going to finish the work and be back before or on his birthday! She didn’t want to miss it and he didn’t want to spend the day alone.
The song at the radio changed and so did Nandini’s mood too. From peppy, sparkling to deeply romantic!! She stirred the ingredients of blueberry cheesecake and invariably smiled thinking about how the lyrics matched her perfect love story with Manik, The Malhotra, her husband.
She had never known that she could love someone, so much!!! But she did!! Loved him to the moon and back, with all her feelings focused on him… with every emotion, she had in her heart…
The phone rang… It was him…
“Hey Nandu, missing me??” He chuckled.
She grinned, “No wayyyyy!!!”
He laughed, “Yeahhh… yeahhh… I know how you are counting every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day till I reach home… so stop lying, okay!!”
She leaned by the wall in the kitchen, sighed and whispered softly, “Come back, already!!”
He pursed his lips in glee at the way she had said that she wanted to see him soon. He replied, “I know, how difficult it has been. We have been away for the first time, after marriage…”
“And for so long….”
“I’ll reach by evening…”
“I’ll be waiting!! Err… Manik…” She blushed as she said.
“Hmm?” He hummed a small sound with an adoring smile.
“I have a surprise for you!”
“Surprise??!! What’s that??” He was suddenly excited about a birthday surprise.
“You’ll get it when you come here… but I am sure about one thing… it is definitely going to blow away your mind…” She blushed and disconnected the call as he had to board the flight from Berlin to Paris.
He was more than elated to hear about the birthday surprise, but once he started putting more thought into it, it drove his mind towards crazy territories…
What surprise is she talking about??? She spoke about something that will definitely blow my mind away???
Ohhh shittt!!!! Is it…??? Is she…??? Is Nandu pregnant???
Did she know that she was expecting before I left for Berlin?? Maybe, she got to know it now??
Dadi has been going crazy about it since a few months. She was nagging Nandu before we left for Bahamas… I think, all they talked at home, these days was about comvincing me and Nandini to have a baby…
Has Nandini given up before her??
No…no…no…no… She had always maintained that she doesn’t want the responsibility of being a mom, so soon… even I am not ready for that… No way!!! We are too young and immature for that… even now, we fight like kids…we take impulsive decisions… we are not ready to become parents!
But then, Nandu is crazy man… she can do anything…
And the wild time we spend with each other, sometimes… Did I miss using protection some day?? … Shitttt… Shittt… I should ask her…right now!!!
The more he thought about it, the more he was sure that ‘this’ was the only surprise a wife will give to her husband after marriage… He took out his phone to call her but was signaled to either switch off the phone or put it in ‘airplane mode’ as the flight was about to take off!!
Half-heartedly, he turned his phone off and spent the next few hours, wondering about the surprise!!!
Dadu, dadi and Maya chachi left for a dinner invite at Cabir and Niki’s new house. They asked Nandini to accompany them but she insisted to stay back. Everyone left after giving her some knowing, teasing smiles as they were aware that it was Manik’s birthday, just the next day and he was coming home tonight!!
Nandini had prepared an Indo-European feast for him – all his favourite Indian dishes as main course and European desserts, sweets, blueberry cheesecake. She checked the temperature of Champagne and set tall crystal glasses!!! She asked all the helpers and chefs to retire as he was coming late and she wanted to be alone with him, now that the family had left too.
It was already time…
As it was an Indian feast, quickly, she changed into a sexy lace saree, with silk blouse in muted red and burgundy, dual colour… their favourite shades merged into one… it was one of the pieces designed by her…
She applied subtle makeup and was back to the dining table as she had small nitty-gritty details to take care.
Hardly few minutes had passed when she was startled by two arms circling her from her back. She couldn’t mistake these arms, even in her sleep.
She jumped in joy, “Manikkkkk!!!” Turning to face him, still in his arms, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. He lowered slightly to reach her level and hugged her back, in an equally warm embrace.
“Seems like someone missed me??”
“Big time!!!” She whispered as she almost had tears in her smiling eyes and upturned curve of lips, both of which she buried deep in his chest. Taking a deep breath over his shirt, she whispered, “I’ve missed your scent around me…”
“Just the scent?” He chuckled.
She gave him a light punch on his chest, blushed and buried her face more in him. He chuckled and drew her closer to him. “I missed the entire ‘you’ like hell…and all you can talk about is ‘scent’…”
She sighed, “Hmm… what to do… You fascinate me so much!!”
“And you scare me…so much!!”
She turned her face to him, “Scare you?? How??”
He rolled his eyes and they separated. “Ever since you said that there was a surprise, I was restless… now, tell me quick… what’s it??”
“Have patience, Malhotra!!” She turned him around to send him to their room. “Freshen up… get changed…”
“You know that I have no patience!! Then why do you ask for it again and again… now, let’s get to the point…” He was anxious and tapped his fingers on the chair impatiently.
She loved it and decided to tease him. “Okay…Let’s have dinner first!! See, I’ve prepared an Indian …lavish feast for you… you’ll end up over-eating, I promise!!”
He made a cute baby face and whined, “Come…on…yaar!!! You know how hopeless I am …how restless… inside … deep inside… do you get it???” His frown made her laugh.
“You are so cute, Manik…aww… such a small thing troubled you???” She teased him, squeezing her eyes and turned away to get tall champagne glasses.
He huffed, “Listen… I really hope… it is …not…” He stammered before speaking the exact words.
She pressed her lips at the way he was getting impatient and was now jumping to conclusions. She giggled, and troubled him more, as she whispered with a red blush on her cheeks and lowered her eyes, “Hubby dear… It is your birthday gift!!”
He gawked at her with eyes wide opened, “Oh no!!! Shittt mannn… how did it happen??”
“How?? What do you mean by how?? I am a woman with rightly placed hormones, as you say about you, always… I am young, beautiful, hot… am I not??”
“Of course!!” He shrugged, rolling his eyes and walked away.
“And you are a handsome and sexy man… trust me, you are!! So, we are not doing something weird…”
“Not weird, Nandu…but it is…” He frowned and searched for a few words, with knots in his brows.
“It is… ???”
“It’s not early, Manik!! We are already late… it should have happened, just the next month after I came here…” She teasingly pressed her lips and looked around.
“Next month?? Gawddd… your views changed like anything after I left for Berlin! I shouldn’t have left you…”
Trying to be serious, she assured him, “No worries… I know that you are going to love it!!!”
“Love it??? Urgghhh… I’m scared like hell…”
“Don’t get scared, Manik… it’s nothing to be nervous about!!” She started laughing at his silly antics.
“Why not?? I am not even prepared for it!!! And look at you… you are laughing…!!!!”
“I’m laughing because you look so adorable!! I love you so much. But honestly, please don’t get nervous and go ahead…”
He frowned, “It’s a responsibility of a lifetime, sweetheart!”
“Lifetime??!! Are you kidding me…?? These days, a new set of lingerie doesn’t last even 3 months and it shouldn’t be continued for hygiene sake… and you are talking about lifetime???”
“What….wait… what, what, what???” He was once again staring on her face like an idiot, “What did you say?? Lingerie????”
“Yeah…” She nodded seductively and tilted her neck to smirk, “The new design in lingerie, a fusion of burgundy and red, our favourite colours!!”
He sighed in relief, opened his mouth to take a deep breath and turned away hiding a sheepish smile, knowing very well that she wasn’t going to spare him now! He had jumped to conclusions, behaved impulsive and dear wifey never leaves a chance to tease him and hold blunders against him!!
He was right!!
She rolled her eyes and rested her one hand on her waist, other on the table near her. leaning suspiciously to one side, she asked in a cute, serious voice, “What were you thinking, by the way???”
“Nothing!!” He shrugged with a chuckle.
“Nothing?? Oh really??” She stepped ahead to tickle him, but he caught her hands and turned her around to hold her tightly from behind, “You tell me… you knew what I was talking about and was confused … but you went on teasing me!??”
She giggled, “You looked so cute with that frown and worry on your face!!”
“I was really worried, you silly!!!”
She giggled more, “Won’t I talk to you before I give such heavy surprises?? It’s a BIG decision. It cannot be just mine…”
He became serious and turned her to face him, “I want to be prepared well both career-wise and emotionally before bringing our babies in this world… they need all the care and attention…”
“I know…” She touched his cheek affectionately.
“I hope you are not thinking about babies and angry with me for not making a decisions.” He pulled her closer in a hug, with his hands around her.
“We’ve talked about it…You know that I think the same …”
“Thank God, you didn’t get carried away by Dadi’s push!!”
“But she keeps trying nevertheless…”
“I know!!” He tch-ed… “Thanks for dealing with her. You know you are amazing!! Right?”
She smiled, “I know that…”
“And we will make amazing babies too!!!”
“Yesssss!!!!” She nodded strongly, “Manik, I know that we will make beautiful, adorable babies together and we will love them like we were never loved in our childhood. It’s just a matter of time…”
He nodded and separated from her, feeling glad that they understood these aspects of their life. After a moment, he sniggered and bit his lower lip under his teeth when he stared at her face. She could notice that hint of tease in his eyes.
“What???” She whispered.
Teasingly, he whispered, “So what did you say the surprise was?? If not a baby??”
“Forget it!” She blushed and tried to move away.
He held her elbow and stopped her. Turning her to face him, he spoke in a sexy, compelling voice, “Now… Mrs. Malhotra… I would like to see that marvelous creation by you, that created all the confusion!!”
She squeezed her beautiful, kohl-lined eyes, held the lapels of his shirt with her pretty fingers, and pulled him closer to whisper in his ear. “For that…Mr. Malhotra… you will have to undress me!!”
He grinned, obviously thrilled, “Now? Or after dinner?”
“Your choice!” She lifted her chin cutely.
He ran his finger over her nose and lips, “Do you have any idea how much I love you?”
“Hmm… not more than I love you.” She chirped.
He watched her satisfied, happy face. It warmed him up. “And I also love how you make every moment of my life so fascinating. How did I find you? By luck?? Or good Karma?”
“We found each other by a stroke of destiny! We were destined to be together. We were two parts of one soul, born in different countries, wandering in search of the other half to complete us. When we bumped into each other, we sort of connected. Despite all differences, fights, misunderstandings, contrasting personalities… we would breakaway, but find each other again and again… we stayed with each other, chose each other over everyone else…”
“Is this what we call…” He let his last words linger, for her to complete them.
She nodded to confirm and smiled gorgeously before she completed it.
This was the last part of Spark & Spice.
Writing Spark & Spice has been an emotional journey for me. It was exhilirating, thrilling, draining at times, mood-lifting at so many times but more than everything, an emotional experience.
Every time, I end it, I feel low. It’s kind of separation anxiety. As if my baby has left me and I won’t write it again. It has grown up to leave me, to have a journey of it’s own.
Pardon me, if it appears silly and senseless.
I am like that.
Most of the times, I make no sense.
I didn’t write it this time. But I did read before posting it. The feeling is still the same.
Love you for pouring sooooo much love on this story. As I have said before, it was a star at wattpad with more than 1 million reads and thousands of votes and comments. We used to discuss every update and I loved reading readers’ responses, predictions and questions. I made most of my friends during this story.
Love and gratitude are all I have for all of you. I will never be able to thank you enough. Each reader, each like, each comment is precious for me.
Take care. Lots of love. Stay blessed.
PS: The book will stay here for another week. Then, I will edit the first part and send it for publishing.