Trapped between his arms, her back to the wall, she stood her ground, chest heaving even as she wanted to throw herself into his arms and hear his calming heartbeat. But she pushed it away. He had hurt her enough. If she let go of her resolve of not giving into her desire now, she knew she’d lose her battle.
Hurt far more than she was insulted, she could take it no more. Her heart was more vulnerable than before. If she lost her senses now, she knew that she didn’t possess the strength to piece together her broken heart once again.
So she fought. She fought her heart which pounded in her chest, she fought her whole being to stare defiantly back into the eyes of the man who was slowly breaking down her defence despite her attempts otherwise.
The man, who drove her crazy with his one touch and hurt her beyond repair with a few words…the man who was her one true love, Abhi.
He inched closer, and she steeled herself for the forthcoming onslaught.
“Why’re you behaving like this?” he growled in a low voice, and she had to close her eyes lest they betrayed the effect he was having on her.
Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes and glared at him icily. “I could’ve asked you the same thing a few days ago.”
“Don’t play games with me, Nikita. I know what you’re trying to do.”, he replied, a sense of anguish mingled with anger in his voice. “And let me tell you something, you can’t fool me, of all people.
“I’m not trying to fool you”, she shot back, a feeling of grave satisfaction filling her heart once she understood how pained he was from the inside.
“Then why’re you hurting me so much?” More than his tone, his eyes questioned her, penetrating her own for answers. But she had blocked the answers she knew he could so easily read in her eyes with a thick curtain of stubborn determination.
Despite her heart’s pained protests, she was going to make sure he was just as hurt as she was.
It was the first time he had said it. For the pervious few weeks, she had realised his steady change of heart. His anger at her for not saying anything during the pool incident had slowly been washed away, replaced with his usual fondness for her. His arrogant attitude has changed to care, but by then she had been broken too much. Having had mastered the art of hiding her feelings efficiently, she distanced herself from him, unwilling to let him shatter her already broken heart.
Their noses touching, lips hardly a breath apart from each other’s, their bodies pressed together and the heat from his body almost intoxicating her alongside the heady smell of his aftershave, it took all the strength she possessed not to melt into him right then and there.
She almost forgot to breathe, his close proximity robbing her lungs of oxygen. Agonised beyond measure, she turned her face away from his prying eyes. Even while trying to block him away, all she saw was her thin wrist trapped between his fingers against the wall.
A sense of frission coursed through her whole body, and he seemed to feel her trying to free her wrists weakly. She was just as anguished as she was overcome with a desire to let him have his way once more. She fought back tears as he moved his hands, but only to intertwine her fingers with his, and she couldn’t do anything but stare and battle the urge to close her smaller fingers on his.
That was when the barrier broke. It was as if she was overpowered with a maddening and painful determination while on the brink of giving in despite not wanting to, turning back to him, she clenches her jaws and gave him the coldest stare she could possibly muster.
“I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m just trying to protect myself.” She wrenched her hands from his suddenly slack grip. Even as she saw his heart break in his eyes and felt her own contract in immense pain, she pushed him roughly aside and ran out of there. Once out of the suffocating office, she ran into a quite deserted side-corridor and breathed. Gasping for air and fighting the tears which pricked her eyes with all her might, she slid down the wall and landed on the floor with a thud.
Suddenly incapable of crying anymore after months of tear-filled, helpless, hapless, sleepless nights, she stared into blank space, hands balled into tight fists, wondering why she wished to run away from him.
The answer came to her so easily she was shocked she didn’t see it earlier. She didn’t want to run away. All she wanted to do was to make him feel pain. To hurt him just as much as he had hurt her. But today, when she had blurted out the truth with force, in her mad attempt to protect her heart, she had managed to break it once more.
Why was it so hard to be with him? Why was it so hard to simply let go of her inhibitions and give in to instinct? Instinct…which had screamed itself hoarse telling her that her happiness lay with him…he would never hurt her, if not by tormenting himself in the process. Why was it so hard? The answers were elusive, teasing, as they floated near her but remained just out of reach, and the echoing silence of the corridor deafened her.
Forehead pressed against the wall, gasping in air that never properly filled his lungs, Abhi stood in his office exactly as she had left him.
He could still feel the ghost of her touch. Wishing to take back every word he had ever said to insult her, everything he had ever done to hurt her, he had never hated himself more.
So she was protecting herself. From the attacks of her estranged emotions, from his hurtful words…from him. And he knew very well the reason why.
He had run from love all his life. But once he had been hurt, betrayed, and broken, and had almost given up on life, love had found him. And it had found him in the most unlikely place he could ever have imagined. He had been attracted to her against his wishes, and had rediscovered his happiness once more. But then he had been hurt again. Despite knowing how much she loved him, he had chosen to ignore her heartfelt apologies and had shunned her.
And today, he stood here alone once more, hurt perhaps beyond repair, only because he had feared a heartbreak. If only he could take it all back and embrace her once more…
Resting his head on the back of his chair, Abhi closed his eyes tightly. He used to love his loneliness once. Bad memories and a broken heart had wrecked him till he couldn’t recognise himself anymore.
He never expected he would find himself. But that spitfire had changed it all. She had stepped into his dark world, bringing with her a light of happiness, bubbliness, and a love for everything beautiful. She had broken through his every defence with effortless ease, and he never realised when she had mended his heart and had taken it with her.
He let out a frustrated sigh, and opened his eyes to stare dejectedly into space. She had done everything possible to hurt him today. He deserved it too. But it was too difficult to accept what she had said. The words that still rung in his ears pierced his heart every time, but they never settled.
They mocked him, bringing to the fore his deepest insecurity…that of losing her.
When she had come into his life, she had taught him to smile, to be happy, to look at the brighter side of things and to love. But now he hated her for not teaching her how to live without her.
Even breathing was laborious. One blunder had turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed his keys and set off towards to parking lot, intending to head home and wallow in his misery, without informing a soul.
Nikki walked out into the parking lot, and into a light drizzle. She froze suddenly, as the memory of how Abhi had almost kissed her once in the rain pricked her insides.
Previously, every such memory brought a warm, fuzzy feeling in her stomach, making her blush and smile slightly. But right now, it was like rubbing salt on an open wound, and she wished she could rewind back to that moment and live it all over again. Despite the sharp contractions in her heart, she experienced an unknown, painful pleasure in her being. It filled her with a sort of disconnected, dejected happiness that engulfed her entirely as she stood rooted to the spot, right in front of Abhi’s car, eyes frozen on its tinted windows, memories of the passionate moments spent with him flooding her mind. They threatened to overflow, until she had to fight hard to resist the scream of agony building up inside her.
But even if she chose to let it out, she feared she had lost her voice. Realisation of what she had done about an hour ago hut her hard, sinking into her soul and pulling her down with it.
Engrossed completely in her thoughts, drowning in her rain, she did not even register when Abhi walked up silently and stood right behind her. The rain poured down in cold buckets, sending shivers through both of them, but it was nothing compared to what they were both feeling.
Nikki clenched her jaws and balled her fists, nails digging into her palms, barely capable of thinking anymore. She had gotten one chance to relive what she had lost, and a lot more than that…but in her own stubbornness, she had thrown it away. No matter how angry and hurt she was, she loved him, she needed him and wanted him.
Abhi simply looked at her, for the first time wishing to run from there and never look back. He didn’t posses the strength to see her beautiful face again after what had happened. If only he could cry and let it all out…but he didn’t know if he even had the tears which could express the turmoil inside him.
It was mocking tragedy for him when she suddenly turned, and their eyes met. Entirely accidental, the eye lock rendered him somewhat helpless. Running from his feelings had never been easy, but he hadn’t thought the pain would reach such an impossible magnitude with just one look.
He lost control. It was so easy to do what he knew he was forbidden to. His mind simply stopped fighting, and his treacherous heart urged him to say it once. To at least let her know what he had never had the guts to say, even if it was way too late.
“I love you…” his voice trailed away into the sound of the rain, not lost, but hanging somewhere between them, unabsorbed by either.
She just stared. Her heart, which normally pounded in his presence, seemed to have just stopped beating.
“I know what I said was too harsh…what I did was too hurtful, but…” he inhaled deeply. It wasn’t hard anymore to express his feelings. He felt he needed a way out. “…I just…I know I went too far.”
She didn’t say anything. Her clear, dark eyes pierced his own, but he couldn’t read them.
He turned away, unwilling to look at her anymore. He didn’t want to say anything else. A million words would fall short to tell her what he was feeling at the moment.
“I never said I loved you, Abhi”, her soft voice cut through the downpour, reaching his ears with astounding clarity.
“I never said you did”, he replied in brutal honesty, and his trembling voice finally broke.
His breathing deepened and hot tears slipped from his eyes, and he struggled to keep himself steady. She had again brought out his deepest feelings, ones he had shoved to a dark, secluded corner of his heart in an attempt to block them out. He wasn’t surprised to find that the pain had been replaced by a numbing feeling, for now he knew that it was impossible to break him any further.
He had never imagined he would cry again for a broken heart, but this was a moment when sensibility and self-control were beyond him.
If only wishes from shooting stars were real, and if only she loved him…he wanted nothing more than a miracle. And today, this night, he could do anything to be loved, to be embraced and to be told that everything would be alright.
After running from love all these years, it was so ironic that he was dying to be loved right now. He wanted a miracle.
As if an answer to his insane, impossible prayers in utter helpless pain, he felt her presence nearer to him.
“But sometimes, these things are better left unsaid…” her voice, barely louder than a whisper, strangled with pain, floated to him.
He didn’t turn around, he didn’t say another word, but his fingers slowly closed on hers when she lightly grasped his hand from behind.
The tears flowed more freely, and he didn’t know if they were of happiness, and he really didn’t care.
Breathing was easy once more, and he could feel his own heartbeat again, smell her perfume mingled with the rain, hear her soft breath and feel her hand in his…but more importantly, he could feel the love.
So maybe miracles do happen.