He woke before her the next morning, his arms still wrapped around her, holding her close. Easing away, he stood and looked down at her for a moment; the dark shadows under her eyes didn’t detract an iota from her beauty.
The memories of how he had hurt her with his arrogant assumptions that he knew the truth of their relationship tormented him; for a few moments, the temptation to kiss her awake and then beg her to love him again teased at the edges of his mind, before he was hit by the realisation of how he had wronged her all over again.
She had loved him. He accepted that now—somehow, despite the torment caused by his brother, Geet had loved Maan Singh Khurana. And he had loved her too; if he had fallen in love with her now, after starting their current relationship convinced that she was a manipulative fortune-hunter, then of course it was clear that he could (and must) have done so in the past, when there had been much longer for his emotions to deepen.
The only question in his mind now was how deeply he had hurt her; his questions, his coolness, his desire for an emotionless marriage of convenience- these would all have been deeply hurtful to anyone who loved, let alone one who had already been through so much.
He turned away, leaving her to sleep for as long as possible- she had lost too much sleep already because of him. The sun was just beginning to appear over the horizon, the bright rays of light diffusing through the morning mist to give the sky a hazy appearance, masking the view that normally engrossed Geet. Standing in her favourite spot, he looked into the distance, wishing that he could see the answers he was looking for written in the clouds.
After ten minutes, he shook himself and told himself not to be even more of a fool. His convoluted thought processes were what had led him to hurt her so much; well, now it was time to turn his powerful intellect (love hadn’t humbled him!!) to the task of winning her love again.
Two hours passed before Geet awoke; the early morning haziness had given way to a bright cloudless sky when her eyes slowly opened, as if she was fighting against re-entering the waking world.
She sat up, joined her hands in a brief prayer then started to get out of the bed; it was only then that she noticed the silent figure standing at the window.
She froze, clearly apprehensive about what his mood would be that morning.
The change from the brave Geet who hadn’t hesitated to stand up to him at the office was almost painful; even if love hadn’t made his heart ache at the sight of her uncertain expression, the warrior in him would certainly have lamented the sight of a worthy opponent brought low.
“Geet, tum theek ho?” “Geet, are you alright?”
A nod was her only response, though he saw her looking at him as if to trying to judge what he wanted from her
He couldn’t stop himself from letting a little of his rage show though. “Agar tum chaho, to main Bobby Saxena ko uski ghalti ka ehsaas dila sakta hoon. Usski himmat nahin hogi kissi aurat ko bina ijaazat choone ki. Agar tum chaho”
“If you want, I can ensure that Bobby Saxena understands the gravity of his error. He’ll never dare to touch a woman without her permission. If you want”
For a moment, her eyes glinted with pleasure at the thought of her harasser being shown the error of his ways. He could almost see the image of the woman who had charged her brother with attempted murder superimpose itself onto the Geet sitting in front of him as, for just one moment, she struggled with the desire to continue the punishment she had started yesterday.
But common sense prevailed; after a moment, she shook her head “Nahin; there’s already enough scandal surrounding our marriage, I don’t want to give the gossip-mongers even more to talk about”
Her eyes glinted before she spoke again “waise, mere khayaal se woh aapki baat itni aasaani se nahin bhoolega. Mujhe to laga aap sach much usska dil kaccha kha jayenge”
“Still, I don’t think he’s going to forget what you said in a hurry. I thought you really were going to eat his heart raw”
Smiling, remembering the killer heels he had noted last night, he said “I think the scars on his face and the hole you drilled in his foot will be enough to remind him not to cross our path again”.
Their eyes met and held as they shared a brief moment of camaraderie filled with satisfaction, before she seemed to recollect who she was talking too; her smile faded as she said “Woh yeh baat phelayega to nahin? Dadi ko agar pata chala to........................”
“He won’t spread this around will he? If Dadi were to find out........................”
Reassurance wasn’t something he was particularly good at giving. But he tried “Geet, tum pareshaan mat ho; usski himmat nahin hogi ke woh meri biwi ke daaman pe keechad uchhale”
“Geet, don’t worry, he won’t dare to try and create a scandal about my wife”
Their eyes met again, the air suddenly filled with tension as his words echoes through the room. It was the first time he had claimed her like that; “meri biwi” “my wife” spoken with possession, with pride and honour and respect all bound together with an absolute branding of her as his. She looked shocked as the sound of his words resonated through her, leaving him cursing inwardly at the thought that he had showed his hand too early.
“Khurana khaandaan ki bahu pe koi ungli nahin uthayega, Geet”
“No one will raise a finger to the daughter-in-law of the Khurana family”
He turned towards the window again, hoping that she would understand that he wanted the matter closed. He was conscious of her questioning gaze, but he ignored it, instead changing the topic completely when, after a moment, he spoke again.
“Geet, office mein ek do kaam hain, main thodi der ke liye jaaoonga. Tum agar chaho to chal sakti ho mere saath, then we can go and have a look at Prashant’s site together. That project is progressing well, I thought you might like to see what your ideas look like in the flesh”
“Geet, I have a couple of things to do in the office, so I’m going to go in for a bit. If you wanted, you could come with me, then we can go and have a look at Prashant’s site together. That project is progressing well, I thought you might like to see what your ideas look like in the flesh”
A blush of pleasure rose on her cheeks, chasing away the pallor of distress.
“Main bas thodi der mein tayyar hoti hoon, I would love to see the site. Prashant has been keeping me updated, but photos aren’t the same as seeing what it really looks like.”
“I’ll be ready as quickly as I can, I would love to see the site. Prashant has been keeping me updated, but photos aren’t the same as seeing what it really looks like.”
As she turned to get out of bed, she missed the way his eyes suddenly flashed with a rapidly-suppressed anger- so Prashant Kelkar had been staying in contact with his wife, had he? He’d have to deal with that later; for now, he had the prospect of spending a day with Geet, away from familiar surroundings. It would give him a chance to try and break through the barriers she had erected between them- the thought that he had been the one to initiate the creation of those barriers was almost painful.