This is a really, really long update - of the size of 2 updates. Happy Reading!! ....................................... Three days! It was simply three days that he had asked for them to spend together without whining and complaining about being separated. She didn’t even think twice before she agreed. She would have done anything for him. And it was just some time that he had aske...
~ Apologies for keeping you waiting. Next time onwards, I will update by evening itself – Wednesdays and Saturdays.
~ Thank you for comments on last part. These days I’ve become bit busy so I’m not able to reply to each of you separately… thank you for sticking around.
~ Thanks for participating in the contest question on the teaser. It had a phenomenal response. I will declare the winner with next teaser on Sunday morning.
Lots and lots of love to each one of you, whether I am able to separately reply or not, you know that I care a lot about all of you!
He grinned this time, feeling on top of the world when she confessed that. He asked, “Then?”
“Then, I thought – If I have to choose between trusting you over anyone else in this world – I’ll choose to trust you!”
He pressed his lips to deal with the subtle, glorious smile of pride that came to his lips and spread on his cheeks when she said that.
She had chosen to trust him even when she had no clue about what had happened between him and Sonalika. It was huge. It was deep.
He didn’t have to explain himself, was the biggest relief to him. Though he had been thinking of words and points to defend himself if any such need arose. It was difficult for him but he wouldn’t have let her assume anything negative. But he was worried about only one thing.
Will she believe him? Will she trust him, even if he explained?
Her faith gave him confidence. He was not only relieved but deeply grateful to her. No one before this had vested so much faith in him.
Without even thinking much, he asked, “Won’t you ask what happened when she was here?”
Nandini grinned and looked at Manik with her face turned sideways and slightly tilted towards him. Her smile held a surprised snicker, as she asked, “Did I hear it right? ‘The Manik Malhotra’ is ready to explain?”
He grinned too and nodded, “Yes… You make everything so easy. You are not attacking me, so I didn’t need to defend myself. You are not suspecting me, so I don’t need to clarify and prove myself. You are not judging me, so I didn’t need validation. You don’t even want to know. So, it’s very easy for me to simply state the facts!”
She observed him keenly. The innocent look in his eyes and the harmless twist of his lips. His sincerity and his genuineness. She sighed, “Is this why you always found it difficult to explain yourself?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Everyone who has difficulty in explaining his thoughts is either short or words that don’t match his feelings, or doubt that people won’t understand anyway, fear of judgement, validation, burden of being suspected and not believed…”
She thought about it for a moment and then said, “I free you of any burden of proving yourself. You tell me whatever you want to share and I will try not to judge you.”
“So… you want to know what happened in the morning?”
She shrugged, “Do you want to tell?”
He opened his mouth to say something but the doorbell rang. He rolled his eyes, “Who is this, again?”
She stood up, “I ordered groceries through the app in the morning. They said that they will be dropping it at around 7 pm. So, I guess they have come.”
He held her wrist and stopped her from going away. She was pleasantly surprised.
This was unexpected and very romantic.
He was doing such a thing after so long… around 4 weeks… and especially after the miscommunication and the speechlessness between them, it felt like ages had passed since they had a romantic, naughty moment between them.
She blushed, “Manik, what is this?”
“Don’t go!” He squeezed his eyes softly and requested in almost a whisper.
She blushed more, “I have to go. Someone is at the door.”
“No!” He nodded to refuse in the naughtiest way possible.
Her cheeks had reddened like ripe strawberries and she couldn’t stop blushing. Slowly, she curled her fingers around his hand, to free her wrist from his grip and bent lower to touch his cheek softly with her lips, giving him a quick peck as she said, “I’ll be back in a moment.”
He left her hand and let her go. Her peck on his cheek was the final seal that said that things were on the right track for both of them and they had found a way back to each other. She swiftly moved away and turned to give a cute smile to him before she stepped out of the room. He returned the smile with an equally warm, loving smile declaring his right to have her with him, above everyone else.
She didn’t deny it. She had to be back.
Nandini opened the door and found the grocery guy with bags of utility material, vegetables and stuff that she had ordered. She took the bags and gave him money from the drawer in the living room where she kept small change for basic utilities. When she was about to close the door, she saw Sonalika leaving Cabir and Dhruv’s home. She wanted to avoid her but Sonalika saw her and then took a turn towards her before taking the lift.
“Hi… I’m so sorry to trouble you…” She spoke sweetly, “Cabir told me that you and he searched the ear-ring…”
Nandini asked, “Did you get it?”
“No, I didn’t…” Sonalika said, making a pout, “Though I still believe that it fell while in your home… you know… in the morning… when I took coffee for Manik…”
Nandini interrupted her, “No. It’s not here… In fact, there is ‘nothing’ in our home that belongs to you.”
She laid extra stress on last few words, telling her in strong words that ‘nothing that belonged to her’ was in their home. Sonalika swayed her jaw at that and nodded bitterly, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was there to help Manik ‘for old times sake’… you know, we were quite close to each other… I really care for him… and when he explained how you got married and under what circumstances, I felt really sorry for him!”
Nandini couldn’t stop laughing at that. She clapped and appreciated Sonalika with a subtle bow, “Wow!! ‘Manik’ – and ‘explained’…!! These two words really don’t go well with each other. Don’t expose yourself like this, sweetheart. You were ‘so close’ to him, right?? Don’t you even know that Manik explains nothing? Not even to people closest to him. Not even to his mother, then who are you? You just got to know that ours was an arranged marriage, which by the way everyone here knows, and you assumed that we ended up so badly together? Tch…Tch…don’t feel sorry for him, feel sorry for yourself as you have absolutely no life that you decided to disturb your married ex-boyfriend’s life.”
Sonalika was acidic, “Don’t feel so happy and proud. Manik is not someone who values people and their emotions. You will cry the day you have a big fight and you will realize that you are no one in his life. He hardly cares if people leave him. He hardly cares if they are still there.”
Nandini folded her hands across her chest and said, “I don’t want to share my personal life and its details with you. What Manik and I feel for each other is not for you to know. Just feel sorry that he didn’t even stop you when you left. That says that he didn’t care that you left. Your presence and absence don’t matter to him.”
“One day, he will repent!”
“Stop living in a delusion. I have a piece of sincere, free advice for you. Start living your life and move on. Manik doesn’t even remember you or miss you. Why will be regret or repent? You had no connect with him. You are wasting your time.”
Sonalika tried once more, “In the morning…”
“I don’t want to know what happened in the morning,” Nandini stopped her with her hand in air between them, “And even if I feel like knowing, I will ask Manik, not you. I will believe his version and not yours… because I could see his angry face when I came back. I saw you leaving and you were not happy either. I know that some ugly discussion must have happened and I am really not interested. My life is already occupied with stuff I don’t want…”
Sonalika tried to dismiss her and pressed the key for calling the lift, “My God! How arrogant and high-handed you are! You really deserve someone like Manik and Manik deserves you! You both are made for each other!”
Nandini smiled proudly, “On that note, Sonalika, I forgive you for all the stupidity you did. Thank you for telling me that Manik and I are made for each other. About being arrogant and high-handed, I don’t mind being called that. I can deal with myself. At least, I have enough self-esteem that I don’t go back to ex-es to force them to accept that they missed me. You can’t respect others, at least respect yourself!”
Sonalika didn’t reply to that and entered the lift, as she murmured, “Bye!”
Nandini grinned ear to ear, waved her hand and said, “Bye-bye! Please try to make it forever! It will be embarrassing for you to meet ‘us’ again.”
Sonalika pressed the button to close the lift door and went down. Nandini closed the door and went inside, clearly happy at being able to speak all that she had always hoped that once she will say to Sonalika. It gave her a weird sense of completion of a work.
When she entered the bedroom, Manik shrugged, “Grocery guy took so much time?”
Nandini chuckled and stood before him, “I was settling some scores.”
Manik stared at her and then said, “Do you know that whatever you talk in the corridor, we can hear it still here?”
“What?” Nandini’s face was blank this time. Her smile was lost and she became nervous, “You heard everything?”
“Every little detail!” Manik smiled teasingly.
“Shit….shit….shit… Oh, man!!” She bit her lower lip and squeezed her eyes.
“It’s okay… I loved it!” He stressed on the loved part and grinned.
“It’s not about you… it was audible, means Cabir and Dhruv heard it too??!! My God, what will they think about me?”
“Relax! It was nothing to feel sorry about. IT was so so so good! You just clean bowled her!” He chuckled again.
“You are back to teasing me?” She slapped his arm, annoyingly.
“That’s a natural response. I can’t stop it as you are back to your old unapologetic, original version!” He laughed heartily at that. Clearly happy to have her back and to have their old moments back.
She sat down beside him, and laughed with him, “I had to be back. I was irritated with myself. I hate my own negative feelings and low profile. I realised in last few weeks that I have to express myself. If I don’t do that, I feel suffocated.”
“And I love it!” He spoke adoringly, “That you express yourself and the way you express yourself. I love how you speak. I love how you don’t care a damn that people might form an opinion about you. Nothing stops you from sharing what you feel.”
Nandini was happy to hear that. With a subtle blush, she asked, “Really?!”
“Thank you, Nandu… thank you for back to being you… and thank you for standing by me.”
“I need to thank you, too!” She giggled, “Thank you for not taking out Sonalika’s anger on me when I came back in the morning and misunderstood you. I was really upset. Later I realized that you were in a bad mood too. But you didn’t shout at me!”
“I don’t shout on you… like, on every little thing!” He defended himself.
“But you don’t realize it when you are angry. You start shouting…”
“I have had enough punishment for that one bad loss of temper. No more!”
He raised his hands up in defense. She giggled more at the way he said that, in a helpless, hopeless tone of a sage who has learnt a lot in life. Sometimes, he behaved so cutely that she couldn’t stop adoring him. His eyes were stuck on her when she laughed, candidly and freely. He was watching her laugh like this after so long and thanked God that he was able to birng back her inherent peace with herself.
“I missed your smile… your laughter!” He sighed.
She shifted closer to him and rested her head on his chest, “I missed you, Manik… I missed ‘us’… I missed everything about us!”
With his first three fingers, he moved her hair away from falling on her face and caressed her cheek. She curled her arms around him and turned her face up to look at him. Without wasting even a moment, he lowered his face and gave her a strong peck on her lips, surprising her. She was speechless. She raised her brows when he moved away as quickly as he had given her a peck.
Her raised brows were enough a question for him that he chuckled in reply at first. Then he said, “I don’t believe in wasting time or adding more misunderstandings. So that was my caveat to prepare you…”
“Prepare?” She asked.
With both his hands, he moved her hair away to tuck them behind her ears before he held her face in his palms, softly cradling her jawline. Within moments, he lowered again, but this time, he meant to give her a long, loving, passionate kiss, claiming her lips as possessively as she held him, shifted closer to him and kissed him back. It was more of an emotional moment than a physical desire. He wanted to feel her close to him. She wanted to relive every moment they had shared and lived together. His lips moved over hers in a fine precision, not missing any sign that her parted lips and her sighs had for him. He could take every cue and respond accordingly making her feel captivated in his arms, paralyzed under his will. She didn’t mind it either. She had decided to sway as her anchor was right there, holding her strong.
After a long moment, he slightly separated from her and took a deep breath. Looking into her eyes, he murmured, “I was scared that you won’t stop when you spoke about taking a break.”
“I was scared that you won’t even stop me because you never did that with anyone before!”
“Before this, it never felt like my soul was leaving me.”