From the author's desk: Hey Friends! I am back and its good to be back. I know I have been gone for long and all this while, this story has been lingering in my mind and I wanted to complete it.
So I am here again. . Opening a new thread as the old ones are all closed now. To my new readers "Welcome" and my old readers "Welcome back" Jappies to you if you are still around and interested to see this completed I can't thank you enough for all the mails that kept hitting my inbox even after all these years. You are one of the reasons that I returned back.
Love you all, Happy reading!
Chapter 1-The Raizada Mansion
Part1: All in vain
Part2: Building up hopes
Chapter 2- Lovebirds in Despair
Part 1: The impending storm
Part 2: The battle of Sharmas
Part 3: Unbreakable bonds
part 4: Warning Signs
Chapter 3-The first impressions
Part 1: All roads lead to...
Part 2: When Sky met earth
Part 3: Tables Turned
Part 4: Receding waves
Chapter 4- Against all odds
Part 1:Finding the way
Part 2:Flaw(less) Plans
Chapter 5- Destined to be
Part 1: On cross roads
Part 2: Train of thoughts
Part 3: Of triumphs and setbacks
Part 4: Tides from the heart
Chapter 6: Feats of Assumptions
Part 1: Out of the blue
Part 2: Missed Meet
Part 3: Fallacious Influences
Part 4: Schemes of Will
Chapter 7: Destiny's call
Part 1: Master of all Mix-ups
Part 2: Modus Operandi
Part 3: To have and to hold
Part 4: Baits and Preys
Chapter 8- Inevitable lament
Part 1: The last epistle
Part 2: The final rites
Chapter 9: Twists of time
Part 1: The Wannabe Guardian
Part 2: Towards a new dawn
Part 3: Griha Pravesh
Part 4: All is well again
Chapter 10: Savior of Love
Part 1: Unforeseen Crisis
Part 2: Back to square one
Part 3: Friends(and more)?
Part 4: Trouble around the corner
Chapter 11: Brides of Raizadas
Part 1: Love Guru
Part 2: Damsel in Shining Armour
Part 3: Secret Missions
Part 4: The mad family
Chapter 12: Clash of the titans * Sneak peak is up!
Part 1: Calm before the storm
Part 2: Battle of wits
Part 3: Away from the maddening crowd
Part 4: Crazy date
Chapter 13: Clouds with silver lining
Part 1: Drifting mists
Part 2: Silver Icicles
Part 3: Leads and trails
Part 4: Dawn of hope
Chapter 14: New beginnings
Part 1: A pleasant interlude
Part 2: Into the night
Part 3: In a fit of Pique
Part 4: Deals and Dialogues
Chapter 15: Trials of truth
Part 1: To the rescue
Part 2: Smoke and Fire
Part 3: Out of control
Part 4: Portents of evil
Chapter 16: Battle ready
Part 1: Finding cause
Part 2: Gearing up
Chapter 17: Strength of will * new
Part 1: Unknown Nemesis
Show me some love, will ya? Comments please!
ViEdited by abavi - 10 days ago
Khushi's endurance to control her laughter gradually waning out, she tried her best to get away from there before she would start laughing.
"Hey Anjali, NK" Sheetal picked up the exact time to notice the two standing next to her.
"How are you guys doing?" She asked, her tone fixating on a demeanor suitable for a 5-year-old.
NK swore under his breath. Anjali muttered incoherently and quickly gave a convincing smile
"Hi, such a pleasure meeting you again"
"Hi Sheetal" quipped NK after Anjali.
As Sheetal came forward to exchange pleasantries, she threw an inquisitive glance towards Khushi.
"Sheetal, meet Khushi" Arnav told her coming forward "Khushi, this is Sheetal"
Khushi smiled at Sheetal in acknowledgement as she extended her hand in greeting "I have heard about you, nice meeting you Sheetal"
Sheetal nodded at Khushi, returning a sly smile which didn't share the warmth that the other girl had. "I have heard about you too", she said taking extended Khushi's hand to shake it "So I finally get to meet the newspaper scandal girl"
"Sheetal" Arnav started warningly to which Sheetal quickly retorted "Hey, it was on a lighter note, nice meeting you too Khushi!" she said customarily, throwing a quick glance at Dadi.
The moment stretched into an awkward silence. Not having anything else to tell, Khushi moved from there at the pretense of some work. Anjali and NK scooted behind her, not willing to be left behind to hold the conversation with Sheetal.
Arnav raised his eyebrows at their retreating backs. The two were only so excited to meet Sheetal a few weeks back. But now, their behavior told him something else. Keeping in mind to get to the bottom of this later, turned to Sheetal.
"So how long are you here?"
"For a month" she replied back "Hopefully, we should be taking the same flight back to UK"
Arnav grimaced at her "I don't think I will be able to Sheetal, I thought that was settled between us"
Sheetal looked disappointed. "I am tired of long distance relationship" She admitted ruefully
Arnav who was momentarily distracted watching Khushi's retreating back, when he caught her turn her head slightly at this, to take a look at couple of them as Sheetal lamented about the difficulties of being in a long distance relationship and then bit her tongue as her action earned her a smirk from Arnav.
His smirk was still intact when she turned back and raced up the stairs, with NK and Anjali in her wake.
"We will make up for the lost time as much as we can while you are here Sheetal" Arnav assured her rather loudly. He wanted to make sure it reached the right ears.
"Someone is in a naughty mood today?" Sheetal whispered in his ears, momentarily perplexing him, turning his attention to the people around him.
"of course" Mami teased him happily... Dadi and Nani was beaming at the both of them. Arnav grimaced again, freeing himself from Sheetal's clutches
"I was just..." he started to say, mentally kicking himself, not knowing what to say to undo the explicit assumptions of his unintended audience.
"Later" Sheetal whispered again to him, simpering slightly taking his uneasiness to be due to the presence of the elders amongst them.
"Dadi ji, I have got something for you" she said walking towards her bag and pulling out a small brass pot.
"Ganga Jal" Dadi exclaimed.
"Yeah, made my Grandfather to specifically ask this to be brought for you, for your healthy and long life she said, "Of course for both of your long life" she added smiling to Nani.
"That's very thoughtful of you bitiya" Nani told her kindly
"Isn't it Devyani" Dadi was impressed "Thanks Sheetal bitiya"
Arnav threw her a puzzled look "really? Ganga Jal? From when did you start believing in all this."
Sheetal grinned at him "oh Shut up" she mouthed at him before she was pulled into other discussions
Khushi was squatting next to the indoor pool in the second floor as Anjali whined about her displeasure at the guest downstairs.
"He likes her, doesn't he?" she asked the younger girl.
"Oh yes, he does. No idea how it happened" Anjali replied "Generally, he is not this thick headed, must have got hood winked"
"She does not seem that bad..." Khushi started to say honestly, Of course she was feeling irksome for reasons beyond her grasp at this point, she felt sorry that Anjali and NK should loathe the girl so much.
"Didn't you see how she acted in front of Arnav?" Anjali retorted angrily. "Why doesn't anyone seem to understand?"
"You seem to think she acted"
"Now you don't start supporting her, My intuition says she is not right for my brother"
"People take time to get understood" Khushi explained her. "May be you should spend more time with Sheetal while she is here"
"It wasn't the case with Payal" NK retorted as Anjali nodded in approval.
"You knew Payal for years" Khushi pointed out.
"It wasn't the case with you" Anjali blurted suddenly "We didn't know you so well...in spite of the circumstances that we met, we still jelled well..." She stopped abruptly, suddenly wishing that Khushi was the girl in her brother's life instead of Sheetal.
Khushi smiled at her sympathetically as she stood up to leave.
"High time I go complete that article I was writing. The editor will call me in the evening if I don't send it by then" she paused on the way downstairs. "Don't worry. Everything will be alright, soon". She said as she started climbing down "You will start to accept her soon".
Khushi tried to earnestly mean what she said. She felt a little uncomfortable carrying on with the discussion with them. It had kindled a guilty glee which was alien to her. She knew that she was not used to this and couldn't understand it either. Why would it matter that Anjali and NK didn't like Sheetal? It was not as if she was hoping for them to behave like this.
"I hope not" NK called after her adamantly
"Me neither" Anjali said determinedly.
Arnav was checking his mails. He frowned at a particular report and then flipped his iPhone to call someone.
"Mr. Prakash! Good time to speak?"
"I was just looking at the reports. They indicate..."
"Are you sure? Roy?"
"That's.. interesting. Thanks"
"What about Khushi, Look, I don't think she is involved"
"If you don't think so too, then why do you want me to bring her to your office?"
"I see..." Arnav paused and then continued again "Prakash, I don't think we should involve her before we are very sure about this. She was quite close to her father. She will be devastated to bring up his death again. That too in the lines of murder..."
"Get clarity first Arnav told him "and you are working on the motive for Roy aren't you?"
"Good job. Thanks"
Arnav was lost in thoughts for some time and then dialed a number. The ring went out for some time before someone answered the phone
"Hello, Saviour's hospital, how may I help you?"
"Connect me to Dr. Ahuja's line please..." Arnav instructed into the phone "This is Arnav Singh Raizada"
"Are you both fighting of something?" Akaash asked NK and Anjali who were sulking at different corners of the first floor couch next to the fish tank. "Not looking cheerful?"
"Didn't you meet her yet?" Anjali asked sarcastically
"May be she left" NK wished
"hope so" Anjali remarked.
"Who are you speaking about?" Akaash asked again
"The Saccharine of course" Anjali quipped, inviting a guffaw from NK
Akaash was still puzzled.
"Sheetal" NK informed Akaash. "She was here this afternoon"
Akaash grew stern as he looked at his younger siblings.
"Anjali!" he exclaimed in shock "Don't you call her names"
"Artificial and too sweetish" Anjali told him "The name is perfect. Or maybe I will call her miss Purrfect, the way she was purring to Arnav" she decided.
NK guffawed loudly again sharing a Hifi with Anjali
"Shut up both of you" Akaash reprimanded "This is not right. Imagine if only he hears about this..."
"He would eventually thank me" Anjali snapped "for saving him from inevitable diabetes
"I don't think he should be genuinely interested in her" NK muttered
"yeah" Anjali agreed "Arnav deserves a better girl"
"And her pretense is going to come to light very soon" NK continued "Then Arnav will understand what a snub she is"
"NK, I warn you, if you ever speak so disrespectfully about her ever again..."
"Oh I will remember" NK threw his hands up in exasperation "not to speak in front of you about the goddess" he muttered.
Akaash was still looking stern "It will do good if you remember that as well" he told looking at Anjali.
"Wait till Payal hears that you are starting a fan club for someone else" Anjali threatened him.
Akaash rolled his eyes at his sister and let out a huge sigh!
"Look, I know their plan... He wants to marry your daughter and use that as a trump to get out of this mess... " Roy reasoned to Sharad. He was sitting opposite Sharad at his Studio office. Susheela, his wife was seated across him, intently listening to his every word.
"Do you know, this very moment, your daughter is at Raizada Mansion? Tricked to go against her own parents, plotting with them to get married to Akaash?"
"We know what our daughter is up to" Susheela bellowed. "We are sure that she will not succeed, whatsoever. We have well laid plan to..."
Susheela would have given him more insights if Sharad had not raised his hand to stop her. Sharad was now glancing suspiciously at him.
"Hope so" Roy told them cautiously "I would be careful if I were you. You are dealing with ASR"
"Why are you so bothered about this anyway?" Sharad asked him. "Aren't you his lawyer?"
"I was his father's lawyer. Not his. Moreover, I do not approve of some of his thought process. Tricking girls into marriage and demanding them to bring in money to clear his debts... I have a daughter too. I wouldn't like it, no!"
"I appreciate your help" Sharad told him warily. "We know how to handle the situation"
"I know, I know you will, of course" Roy told him impatiently "With a willing girl who is a major on their side, the situation becomes a bit too tricky if you ask me"
"By all means it is" Sharad agreed as he stood up. Roy wasn't done yet, He remained seated.
"And you must have of course heard of his illicit relationship with that other girl, it was in the newspapers."
"So it is true then?" Susheela asked.
"what else? The girl is now in Raizada mansion. Did you know? Not that I wouldn't have expected something on those lines with him. And on top of it, he is himself in talks with another family for his wedding. Do you know them? The Kapoors? Proprietors of Kapoor's Finance?"
"Pratham Kapoor's daughter?" Sharad asked surprised.
"Same" Roy confirmed. "Not sure how they would react, I mean two girls in his own house, one as wife and other eh... he stopped as if to let them assume the worst."
"That's shocking." Susheela gasped. "I mean I know Neha wouldn't do anything that stupid"
Roy knew his job was done. It wasn't a successful one but still worth the time. He got up to shake hands and leave. He wasn't very successful in prying out what the Sharmas were planning to do. They had well-guarded their plans. He hoped it was good enough to stop the marriage or at least make the relationships sore between them and the Raizadas.
He had of course goaded them towards believing that Arnav Singh Raizada was a morally corrupt person who was scheming with their daughter's life, that he was ready to even sacrifice his brother's life to get money. If the marriage succeeded, he can still fall back on trusting the Sharmas to disconnect Akaash from the family.
"You were here all the while?" NK asked as they watched Arnav emerging from his office suite at first floor. They were still sitting there in the very same floor on plush couch next to the fish tanks listening to Akaash's rather boring lecture about their attitude towards Sheetal.
"Why yeah" Arnav said "What happened?"
"Nothing... we were just speaking about Sheetal" Akaash said throwing a warning glance at NK and Anjali.
"What about her?"
"Oh, Anjali said that she visited" Akaash explained "So where is she?
"She left?" Akaash asked "I thought she was staying here?"
"Staying here? At RM? Why would she stay here?" Arnav asked him
"I... er.. I thought"
"He is more proactive when it comes to your love life... that's why... Anjali said "He has already started to think that we need to get used to her living in your room and respect her like bhabhi..." Anjali started to say as Arnav's expressions moved from being amused and then confused and finally turning bemused
"WAIT what? BHABHI? Where did this come from?" he asked as he threw a glance at Akaash
"bhai ..I..no ..its.."Akaash started to stammer as he threw Anjali who was basking in merriment
"May be its because Mami and Dadi have started to heavily hint at accepting her as the elder bahu of this house" NK answered Arnav on behalf of Akaash taking pity at Akaash's pitiable state.
"So... we would want to know if there is any truth in it. I mean you are not opposing them" Anjali told immediately getting into her inquiry mode instantly. When the opportunity strikes, she knew how to take the best advantage of it.
Arnav rolled his eyes at her.
"I didn't agree with it either" he pointed out
"Yeah, but it could go either way more probably this way so..."
"It's better to let them think whatever they want to... at least they won't trouble me with those ridiculous photos of prospective brides for me"
"So you mean to say that you don't have any intention to marry Sheetal then?" Anjali asked in excitement as she climbed up the tea table, slid through its breadth of it and jumped across the couch to stand in front of her brother.
Arnav looked surprised at her enthusiasm when he thought that he was going to get quite an opposite reaction to this news.
"It's not like that. I haven't given a thought to it yet" Arnav said trying to sound honest
"Then think now" Anjali demanded
He scrunched his eyes a little as he looked at his sister. "She is my girlfriend for now... That's all is there to it- for now... I don't know if it would get to a stage where we would look at responsibilities in that way" he told with caution, he wasn't going to get into her lecture about how nice it would be to get married.
"And no marriage thoughts? What so ever, who so ever? " Anjali wanted to affirm even as his other brothers looked at him
"Not yet" Arnav told them even as he ignored to acknowledge the flashes of memory where Khushi addressed him with a "jee" in front of his office staff and the time she barged into his cubicle rightfully like his wife!
"That sounds better" Anjali sucked in the air "Phew! I am relieved"
Arnav was amused. He almost laughed at his Sister's reaction to the news. But curiosity got the better of him.
"Only last month someone was so excited to meet Sheetal. I wonder what happened now?" Arnav asked her
Anjali spluttered incoherently. NK gasped and then tried to pass it off as a cough, gesturing for the water bottle by the side table. Akaash as usual was trying to assure Arnav that it was nothing and it was just Arnav's imagination.
Arnav chuckled as he turned towards the fridge to take out a water bottle.
"You know what? Its ok to not put up with Sheetal for my sake"
NK who had hurriedly taken a gulp of water, ventured into bouts of coughs for real.
Akaash stood there gawking at his brother, shell shocked.
Anjali jumped up from the back of the couch where she was leaning on, as soon as she recovered from the shock of Arnav's words herself.
"Wait" she shouted she stopped him from entering his office again "What do you mean"
Arnav smirked as he turned back again to watch his siblings gawking at him curiously
He shrugged at them in an amused way.
"Don't you want us to like her?"
"Do you like her?"
"Of course I like her very much!" she lied.
"Are you sure?" Arnav raised his eyebrows at her
"Ok, not very much... may be a little" she huffed at Arnav's reaction at her blatant lie
He was still smirking at her
Anjali finally sighed. "No" Anjali admitted biting her lips. "I mean... er... she is little too ..."
Arnav did not get to hear what Anjali thought Sheetal was... An urgent warning from Akaash stopped her.
Anjali went quiet and was looking down at her feet now. She wasn't too sure if she wanted to tell Arnav about what she thought about his girlfriend. She didn't want to upset her brother.
"I am sorry" she whispered apologetically
"Really?" She looked up at him expecting to see him angry.
"You don't have to be sorry about this" Arnav told her as he put his arm over her petite shoulder. He was wearing an amused look.
"Arnav" she asked rather cautiously. "You don't mind then?"
Arnav shrugged again as if to say he didn't really bother. Anjali couldn't even hide her surprise.
She beamed at him "Are you serious?" She asked to be sure.
Arnav chuckled again as he shrugged at her and then entered his office suite
Anjali turned and beamed at her other two brothers
"You know what that means?" She asked Akaash "that you were wrong about him being serious about Sheetal. He doesn't care really"
NK simpered. "He always throws that ball on you when you least expect it. Doesn't he" he said admiringly and he slumped back into the couch "I can go back to happily hate her without guilt"
"I don't understand"
"You could do with your own advice brother" Anjali advised "Arnav best knows what he wants"
Akaash made up his mind to speak to Arnav later on this. With the ladies of the house seemingly so serious about the wedding talks, If Arnav wasn't serious about Sheetal, he better do something about it before it was too late.
"Are you sure you want to do this Sheetal" Pratham asked his daughter
"Yes Dad" Sheetal replied back confidently
"Did ASR ask you to do this?" he asked her again
"No, he didn't" Sheetal admitted "I want to do this for my own reasons. Besides, you may have to try very hard to convince him to take our financial support. I know he has a lot of pride to start with" She added
"But why?" he asked her baffled that his smart daughter would ask for something so lame. She had just proposed that they strike a business deal with Raizada group of companies again.
"You like him don't you?" Neha asked her daughter
Sheetal smiled at her mother.
"Why do you think so much?" Rajaneesh Kapoor, her wizened grandfather asked his son "They are our old acquaintances. It's not the first time we worked together"
"That's exactly the reason why I am bothered" Pratham admitted "You know how the last two times we did business with them ended up. Last time, we had to withdraw because Ajay was a reckless spend thrift and before that..." his voice trailed off.
Rajaneesh become rigid. "That's enough. Don't remind me of that" he told gruffly.
"It wasn't their mistake anyway Neha" reminded Pratham
"Their mistake? If not for Ajay, it wouldn't have been possible for her to..."
"I said STOP IT!" Rajaneesh bellowed at his son and daughter in law. The two fell quiet immediately.
After a prolonged silence Sheetal spoke again
"So is the deal on?"
Her father nodded at her "I will try my best"
"Oh I forgot" Sheetal told her parents "Arnav's Dadi told that she wanted to meet you all. She was so excited when she heard about our family. I didn't even realize we knew each other for so long"
"That's wonderful. Kalpana would be delighted to meet her old friend" Rajaneesh commented before her got up and left the place.
After a particularly one-hour long discussion about the project status and their progress at their terrace balcony, Arnav extended his legs for stretch from where he was sitting on the rounded cane chair.
Akaash stood up to do the same "What a long day" he exclaimed to his brother.
"It's only 5 in the evening" Arnav reminded him. "We may have to sit on the UK project later. If you feel tired, we can do it tomorrow"
"No, I am Ok to do it now"
"Not now, we will take a break" Arnav told him, standing up.
"Bhai" Akaash started rather hesitatingly
Arnav blinked back at Akaash. Bhai comes from his siblings only when they are worried
Akaash fidgeted under the questioning look from his brother.
"Tell me Akaash" Arnav probed him."Is it about Payal?"
"No not Payal...Your discussion this afternoon with Anjali... he started nervously. "About Sheetal..."
Arnav who was looking at him raised his eyebrows. Akaash stopped talking.
"What about that?" Arnav asked curiously
He can't step back now that he has started it. Better get it done with.
"You aren't serious about it?"
Arnav looked as if he would throw something on him and then broke into an impish grin.
"Don't you let Anjali or Payal influence you so much" Arnav chuckled "Didn't know you are into gossips of late?"
Akaash fidgeted again "This is not about that he said " I wanted to know, I mean, I would want my family to accept and respect Payal and vice versa if I was serious about bringing her home"
Arnav looked thoughtful.
"you can tell me you know, If you want to speak about it..." Akaash prodded him "If you don't want to speak about it, I will understand" Akaash interjected quickly
Arnav looked at his brother meaningfully
"I don't want to get into commitments, I am not ready yet. With all these complications" he admitted
"And what about all these discussions going on about Sheetal? Look mate, if you don't want to get into commitments, Then at least let Dadi and Nani know"
"and then get hours long gyan about settling down? No thanks"
"Aren't you going to get into trouble letting them get carried away with this?"
"It will not go through"
"How do you say"
"Because I know." Arnav told him "I trust Sheetal to not take it further"
"I don't understand"
"Sheetal is not a marriage material, if you get what I mean" Arnav told him "She isn't the type who would want to get into commitments either."
"But, with Dadi and Mami hinting her heavily about you..."
"She will back off the moment the talks turn towards those lines"
"But" Akaash paused before he questioned him again "Don't you want to settle down"
"I will" Arnav assured him "Until I am ready, I am contented with this relationship with Sheetal to provide me with the padding that I need against our family who may force me to settle down". Arnav confessed to him "And so is Sheetal depending on me to not take it further as well. We know our limits."
"You both are sort of friends with benefits?" Akaash asked
"Something like that" Arnav agreed
"I bet Anjali and NK would have been very happy to know this"
"Hey don't go about blabbering about this to anybody else at home, I am not in a mood to take any such gyans from anybody yet"
"This stays between us, like always" Akaash smiled at his brother holding his neck as if to promise
Arnav chuckled. Akaash being only 2 years younger to him had been his confidante all his life. Partners in crime, or rather secret keeper for his mischievous teen years. And he in turn was Akaash's go to person for his troubles.
"Oh really? Off late, I suspect you have some trouble against keeping secrets from Payal" Arnav asked him cheekily "And once it goes to Payal, the entire Raizada clan will know about it. If you had kept quiet about Sheetal, I wouldn't have thought of bringing Sheetal home at all"
Akaash laughed "Can't help it, can I? She seems to pry it out of me"
Arnav nodded "I understand" he said, amused.
"But I wish you relaxed on your policies about settling down. It will make this ordeal easier for you"
"Coming from experience?" Arnav chuckled at him "Nay! Wouldn't suit my type"
"I know what you mean" Akaash teased him "Who would put up with a workaholic who only gets to eat and sleep at wee hours on account of work"
"Precisely" Arnav agreed
"and not to mention the grumpiness that she might have to put up with" Akaash added as his brother chuckled again "But honestly, I hope you soon find the girl who catches your fancy and for whom your weird ways won't matter"
"you are getting into the realms that the girls called fantasy bro!" Arnav told him jokingly as his thoughts strayed back to the girl in his very house who would may be fit the bill. He quickly shut that thought. What was he even thinking? His thoughts were crudely disrupted by a loud shriek somewhere nearby by the very same girl who was at the moment occupying his thoughts.
"Khushi?!" Arnav called out.
Akaash heard it too as they both rushed inside.
To be continued.
Hope you liked it. Some of you might have read this chapter before, But this update is re-written, and I would love to hear from you all about what you think.
Topic started by abavi
Last replied by sen.s