“Get to work Dr.Nikita…I don’t want any more mistakes from you. Or else I’ll be forced to give you a red mark.”
His cold voice echoed in her ears…his even colder stare flashed in her mind, somehow seeping all the energy from her body. She slowly sunk to the floor, emotionally drained, unable to take it anymore…but she had to. It was the price she had to pay for being a mute spectator to all the insults her friends had thrown at him that night. His eyes never left hers, willing her to protest…say something…anything…but she couldn’t find her voice.
Their past moments flashed in her mind…a small smile appeared on her face of its own accord. She wished she could turn back time and go back to those few moments before Abhimanyu had been pushed into the pool. Maybe she could have done something…maybe…
She shook her head and got up. Collecting her things, she left for home.
The next day, she was once again burdened with lots of work by Abhimanyu. Taking it as a punishment, she silently tried her best to satisfy him with her hard work. But he, being the stubborn man he is, decided not to let her be in peace. He managed to find the smallest of mistakes in her work and reprimanded her for them. He insulted her, shouted at her, and by the time he was done scolding her, she was close to tears.
His office was dimly lighted, and they stood there alone. Nikki had always been afraid of the dark. She was feeling a bit uneasy. Also, Abhimanyu standing right there in front of her made her feel even more scared, as she knew what a strong and safe place his arms were…she had been there once…and longed to be there again….but knew she wasn’t allowed there anymore. He had shut himself out.
He looked at her with eyes full of pain and anguish…she could feel in her heart what she saw in his eyes. She instinctively called out softly to him, “Abhi…”
She realized her mistake as his eyes blazed with more anger and hurt. He advanced on her…making her take a step back. “What do you want to say now Nikita? Wasn’t what you already did enough?” he growled.
“I…I didn’t-“she started, unable to understand what he was getting at.
“Of course you didn’t Nikita. You never do anything. It’s always me who’s at fault. You can never do anything…you can neither take care of yourself or of others. You got all tongue tied when I needed you to speak up for me and now you have lots to say!” he said, his voice rising with every syllable.
“Abhi I wanted to-” she tried again, but this time her voice stuck in her throat.
“You did what you wanted to do Nikita. There is nothing left to be done. I have no use for girls like you, who try to seduce their boss to make their internship easier'” he said, this time his voice very low…he came closer, and she took a few more steps back, her back touching the wall.
His words were like daggers in her heart. The tears that had been threatening to fall now slowly started making their way down her cheeks, and she tried to look down to hide them.
He stared at the tears falling from her eyes, the pain he saw in those beautiful deep black pools threatened to shatter his already broken heart.
Great Abhimanyu, as if it’s not enough that you insult her unreasonably for what her friends did to you, now you make her cry once again. You should be ashamed of yourself. His mind scolded him.
He wanted to suppress that small voice that urged him to wipe her tears away, but he lost the battle.
He lifted her face with his finger…her eyes were closed, refusing to show him the vulnerability in them, but the tears flowed unrestricted. He slowly bent down and kissed them away, all his anger at her seeming to have been completely washed away by her freely flowing tears.
He realized that he was the only one who got to see her in this state, so vulnerable, so delicate…almost breakable….when only tears of pain and loneliness clouded her eyes, the need to be held, the need to be loved so was obvious and visible in them.
Her eyes opened slowly, apprehensively looking into his….searching…searching his chocolate brown ones for the love he so clearly could see in hers. He hoped she found what she was looking for.
He caressed her face, his fingers slowly rubbing her soft cheeks. Her eyes opened and closed with the rhythm of movement. She looked up at him with half-closed eyes, and he again kissed away a stray tear that had managed to escape the boundaries of her eyelashes.
He longed to touch her again…to feel her…to let her know exactly how much she meant to him…to hold her in his arms…to rid her of all the pain and suffering he had caused her. He longed to take back his words and instead tell her that she was his life…his everything. He wanted her to be his forever.
The longing in his eyes was only too evident to Nikki, who shivered at the intensity in his gaze. Did that mean he still cared?
Abhi awoke from his daze seeing her shiver slightly and asked her, “Nikki…”
He didn’t know what to say, after his earlier outburst. Nikki melted at his concern. He did care.
“Are you okay?” he asked her softly.
Feeling more secure after hearing the softness in his voice, Nikki replied, almost inaudibly,”I’m scared of you.”
That was not the answer to his question, but he still understood what she meant.
“I’m scared of you too…” he whispered, coming closer. Nikki suddenly felt very conscious of the lack of distance between them.
She didn’t know what he would do next. She couldn’t understand him. She couldn’t understand what he said, what he did, and why. She could never make any sense of his mood swings. He could be livid at her one moment and then be wiping away all her tears in the next. But she liked the softness to his tone. It made her feel safer.
His hand once again came up to her face, and his warm and gentle touch sent sparks through every fiber of her body. A small voice inside his head warned him…don’t, Abhimanyu. Don’t do this. She’ll trample all over your heart once again…don’t.
But another voice, this one much stronger and more confident, contradicted it and said give her a chance. She does seem genuinely sorry. And it wasn’t her fault in the first place. Deny it as much as you like, but you really love her, Dr.Modi.
However, he didn’t have any control over his actions anymore. He wanted another chance with her…he wanted to take their relationship further, he knew there was something more…something they both adamantly refused to accept. He…loved her.
He moved even closer, bringing their lips tantalizingly close…she could feel his warm breath on her face, and the heady smell of his aftershave made her mind go all fuzzy. She couldn’t think anymore.
Abhi saw her sigh softly…he wanted to mend their broken hearts…but he didn’t know for what. He didn’t know whether anything was left to try for, and he really didn’t care. He wanted to live this moment…he wanted to give everything he could, make her understand that he still cared for her…that she could still drive him crazy with just one look.
Nikki gazed up at him adoringly…the fact that her lips were mere inches away from his was crazy. The fact that he was observing her with a sense of wantonness and pure passion was unnerving. The fact that he was slowly leaning closer, and the fact that she wasn’t stopping him, was dangerous…
Their lips met, and the sparks flew. Everything they felt for each other no longer had to be said…they could feel it in the kiss itself. She grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer, and he happily obliged, deepening the kiss as they both lost themselves in each other.
They didn’t know how long that kiss lasted…perhaps for an hour, perhaps for several days, or perhaps for just a few blissful moments. To them, it seemed like forever.
As they pulled apart, the unsaid words were spoken through their eyes…speech wasn’t necessary. They mutely observed each other, adoringly drinking in every detail, wanting to carve the memory of this moment for ever in their memories.
Later, they thought that perhaps Abhi’s office hadn’t been the best place to make up, and perhaps they should have said something…apologized, maybe.
But then it didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was that then there remained nothing more to be said, nothing more to be understood. They needed each other, they loved each other. They were with each other…this time, truly forever. Throughout their lives, and hopefully after that too.