Oh. So it seems like Anjali is behind his death. So now what's next? Revenge?search of True cause of death?
The following days were spent sitting in front of the laptop, after Khushi got back from office, to gather as much information as they could about Arnav's life. He was an only child. His birth mother had passed away when he was a toddler. He was unmarried, a tidbit which internally delighted Khushi. Arnav was 7 when his father remarried. Arnav's stepmother had a daughter of 10, Anjali, from her previous marriage. A few years later his stepmother passed away, due to a terminal illness, leaving behind her small family of teenaged Arnav, Anjali and their father.
Khushi would retire for the night but in the mornings when she woke up, Arnav would still be looking up and reading articles. This went on for the entire week till on the following Saturday, he derived a conclusion.
"I am sorry, what!" Khushi choked on her water when he had told her his theory.
"Murder." He repeated, grimly. "I think I was murdered. My death was not an accident."
She wiped the water that she had spilt on her top. "What in the world would make you think that?"
"I have been reading extensively and repeatedly everything that I could find about me," he responded, "I was the only heir to the business empire."
"So was your sister, Anjali," Khushi interjected.
"As per quite a few tabloids, the only reason Anjali was even given important portfolios was because she was family. She didn't have much talent and apparently, I, and some members of the board of directors, were not very happy with her work. There were rumors that we didn't get along well, especially after my father made her the COO. A few months later, my father passed away in the accident," Arnav used finger quotes to describe the word, "She was handed over the CEO post, her only contender was me. Since I was vocal about my opinion of her, she needed to take me out before I could sway all the directors to my side."
"Where did you read all this?" Khushi scrunched her nose.
"I did a lot of research. Read each and every piece of news, saw all interviews of me, my late father's and her," he hissed the last word.
"These are all, like you said, rumors," she interjected, "These newspaper make the story more controversial to sell the news. I am sure they must have said something about you too."
Arnav pursed his lips, then spoke in a low voice. "They called me a workaholic who was arrogant with anger issues."
Khushi stifled a laugh. "See, that is only... partially true. They got the arrogant part right."
Arnav was not amused.
"Geez! It was a joke, lighten up," she raised her hands trying to diffuse the growing tension.
Arnav shook his head and resumed, "As I was saying, I have read and watched numerous interviews of Anjali and she always talks about me as a 'valuable asset'' 'important to company'' but never anything personal. This shows that she didn't like me."
"Or maybe that she is a private person and doesn't like expressing her sentiments publicly?" Khushi offered.
It fell on deaf ears.
"And months before my death, my father was killed in a road accident too, same as me. That's too much of a coincidence," Arnav concluded.
"Are you seriously saying that your sister planned to murder her brother and her father?"
"Step-brother and step-father," Arnav replied pointedly, "Though she always refers to my father as father but I am referred to as step-brother."
"So because she calls you by your actual relation, she murdered you?" Khushi raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "This is very soap-opera-ish."
"Have you not been listening to what I just said?" Arnav paced the length of the drawing room. He stood near the TV and held his fist out. He stretched his index finger to count, "One, she never considered me family," He resumed counting on his fingers, "Two, we clashed a lot at board meetings, as per some news reports. Which all point to the fact that I was the only thorn in her path to take the reigns of this business empire."
Khushi crossed her arms, "So did she kill your father too? She didn't have any problem with him, as per you and all those news reports."
"I..." he stammered, "I don't know. There is some story behind all this. Two major deaths in a family, at the span of a few months, in the same manner cannot be a coincidence."
"Or it could just be that- a coincidence," she countered.
He vehemently shook his head. "Do you remember what you said about the limbo that I was in- waiting for the light to call me? You said that I was there, in that dark room, because I had some unfulfilled purpose, or desire. Maybe this is what it is. To find out about my murder," he tried to reason.
"Arnav! You are going to assume all that because I, a human who didn't even believe in the existence of ghosts till about a few months back, made a guess about the limbo?" she uttered, disapprovingly, "That is plain stupid!"
"Why are you so against the idea that it was a murder?" he huffed, annoyed.
"I don't want you to jump to conclusions based on what these news articles say," she replied, "It will only disturb you. I don't want you to obsess over all this. There's no way to prove what you said is true."
Arnav thought for a moment before his eyes lit up, "There is one way. We talk to Anjali directly."
"By 'we'', you mean 'me''," She rolled her eyes. "There are 2 problems with this plan- the first, Anjali runs a big business empire. We can't just stroll in her mansion and demand that she talk to me. And second, what makes you think that she'll confess to your murder to me? Provided what you say is true even though it sounds too dramatic to be true."
He put his fingers on his lips, formulating something in his mind.
"Do you want to go out? Take a break from all this?" she asked. "You have been obsessing over the same thing for days now."
Arnav shook his head, "No, I am fine."
"Okay," she answered, picking her wallet and house keys, "I am going to get some grocery. When I come back, I better not find you in front of the laptop again."
He nodded, reluctantly.
A couple of hours later, when she came back, she found him immersed in front of the laptop screen. Shaking her head at him, she quietly started unloading the grocery.
It was a week later when Khushi came rushing in the house, after office hours.
She was panting but her face was jubilant. "You," she panted, catching her breath, "You are going to love me for this."
Arnav handed her a glass of water. She drank it in a go.
Wiping her lips, she announced excitedly, "I got us an appointment with Anjali Singh Raizada!"
His eyes widened with disbelief, "You did what?"
Her face broke into a huge smile, "An appointment with Anjali." She patted herself on the back and laughed.
Arnav beamed and, unable to control his excitement, engulfed the tiny girl in his arms. "You are amazing, Khushi Kumari Gupta!" he mumbled, pressing his face into her hair.
She laughed against his chest, "Why, thank you Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada."
Arms still wrapped around her small back, he looked down at her, "How did you manage that?"
"Well, I lied... kind of," her smile mitigated, and a temporary frown settled on her face, before turning back to a smile. "So, I was proof-reading a book at work- about successful businesswomen in India and suddenly I got an idea. I picked up the phone, dialled Anjali's PR person, the contact details were given on the company website. I sort of exaggerated my designation in the publishing house and told her that I wanted to interview Anjali for the book. This was a few days ago. I didn't tell you because I didn't want to get your hopes high. Today I got a callback from them. She has agreed for the interview. This Sunday. At your house."
"That's..." Arnav wanted to say 'brilliant'' but he stopped, "wait, isn't that fraud? What if your boss finds out? He'll fire you."
"He will... if he finds out," her tone had lost some of its enthusiasm.
"Khushi!" Arnav exclaimed, letting go of her, and taking a step back, "Why would you take such a risk?"
"I don't know," was all she could say. "You were so desperate to talk to Anjali and I... I guess I just wanted to be helpful."
"You have been nothing but helpful," he assured her, "From the day you stepped in the house. I would never forgive myself if I got you in trouble. This is too risky. We should... we should drop the plan."
"What!" she cried, "No, Arnav. This kind of opportunity will not present it self ever again. We have to take advantage of it. This is what you wanted."
"You," the word caught in his throat and he felt something warm in his chest, "You risked it all for me?"
Khushi gulped, her gaze steady on him. "Yes."
It took Arnav an instant to stride over to her. He wrapped a hand around her waist and pulled her close to him. She let out a small gasp as his lips met hers. She parted her lips, letting him deepen the kiss.
There was a sense of urgency today. She could feel the intensity as his tongue caressed her lower lip, before finding it's way in her mouth. Khushi curled her toes at the sensation. This was so different than the way they had kissed the other night.
With one hand on her back, he cupped her face with the other, not breaking the contact of their lips. Khushi encircled her arms around his neck and pressed her body against his. He responded by gripping her harder on her waist.
When she pulled away, their lips were pink and swollen. Arnav leaned in again when she gently put a finger on his lips. Holding his hand she led him to her bedroom.
His gaze shifted from her to the bed, comprehending what she was implying. "Khushi," he managed to utter. He looked into her big brown eyes and her slightly parted lips. He raised his hand and ran his finger over her cheek to her lips, lingering there before moving down to her neck and stopping at her collarbone.
She trembled at his touch. He bent down and kissed her neck softly. She let out a gasp at the sensation. He kissed her again at the crook of her neck and slowly bit into her skin. Khushi clutched his arms tightly. Her breathing was ragged and her heart beat wildly against her ribcage.
"Khushi," he whispered her name against her skin. She ran her hand through his hair and pulled his head up from her neck. Turning him around, she pushed him on the bed. He sat at the edge as Khushi settled herself on him, wrapping her legs around his waist.
She could feel him harden underneath her. She unbuttoned her shirt, her eyes not leaving his and let it fall to the floor. This time, he gasped as he took in her exposed body. He brought his lips close to her chest and kissed her, slowly moving down to the cavity between her breasts. His hands moved on her back till they found the bra hooks and unclasped it. The bra fell down and she shivered at the cool air suddenly hitting her skin.
Slowly, like a tease, she unzipped his pant. Arnav's fingers found the buttons on her pant. He stopped for a moment, "Are you sure?"
Khushi nodded, her breathing still uneven. He unbuttoned her pants and she wriggled out of it, letting him do the same with his. Sitting on top, she slowly let him slid inside her. She flinched a little at the pain in the start, gradually deriving a pleasure out of it till he was fully inside her. Slowly rocking her hips, she moved on top of him, as he thrust himself inside her, till they came.
Khushi moaned in pleasure, louder than she had thought, as her whole body shivered with the aftershock of her orgasm and her vision went blurry for a moment. She opened her eyes to see Arnav's head press back to the pillow and his face, contorted in delight.
He opened his eyes and met her gaze, uttering, "I..."
Say it, it's just three words, a voice in his head coaxed him. The gap wasn't only 3 words. The distance between them was of different realms- of humans and spirits. In the aftermath of their intimacy, when his mind was not clouded by strong feelings for her, the rational thoughts came flooding back to his mind. A moment of bliss ended with the advent of unavoidable conflict. He shut his eyes, trying to cut off the thoughts. Today, at this moment, he didn't want to think of anything else but her.
"Khushi, I..." he struggled "I..."
She seemed stunned for a moment, almost as if she knew what he wanted to say. Arnav thought maybe it was too early for her. Maybe he should not rush.
She extricated her self from him and he raised his body, with his elbows supporting him. Instead of leaving the bed, as he had feared, she laid down next to him, pulling him down with her. She placed her head on the crook of his neck and shoulder, her bare skin pressed against his right side.
Taking a deep breath she whispered, "I know."
Topic started by ErisedWitch45
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