Mind Games Vol 1

** NO COPYING, SHARING, OR POSTING ELSEWHERE ALLOWED. COPYRIGHT 2013 BY TINA. This story is based on the IPK telepathic scene (epi 278) and the preceding office scenes. Any other similarities are coincidence and unintentional.**




Due to the recent posting of this story on another website without my permission, I'm taking down the first three chapters rather than everything.
New Readers: Brief summary of the first 3 parts--Arnav and Khushi are childhood friends who through the tragic loss of their parents, bond and form an unusual, long-distance connection. They are able to communicate mentally. Crazy as it sounds, this bond grows into love for both, though they remain friends only. Once all grown up, Khushi arrives in Delhi and learns that cold and distant ASR is actually her best friend, Nanav. She is angry he kept this secret from her, while he vows to seduce her and make her his in one week. Story continues from there..
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Part IV: Chaos
Khushi and Arnav were rolling together on red, silk sheets, their bodies entwined..
Candles burned softly from every corner, highlighting her heaving body, his naughty expression.
Arnav smirked as he worked his way down her throat, kissing each inch of her bare skin as if he had all the time in the world.
Khushi, on the other hand, was clutching him tightly, nearly out of her senses..
As she moaned out loud, Arnav smiled slyly against her rapidly beating heart.
He shifted up her body, his every movement slow and purposeful.
As he lifted himself off of her, her eyes opened in protest. Her hands reached out automatically to bring him closer.
But he only shook his head at her wryly, leaning toward her ear, whispering seductively, "I told you, princess, I don't wear pajamas. Now do you believe me?"
He smirked at her shocked expression and then to prove his point, fell on top of her with a dull thud.
Khushi woke up with a start. Her heart was beating rapidly and she quickly covered it with a shaky hand, her eyes closing tightly.
But instead of calming down, her breathing escalated even more as the vivid images of her dreams passed before her eyes...again and again..refusing to leave her alone.
Khushi grumbled under her breath as she wandered half-asleep to the kitchen.
It was all Nanav--no Arnav's-- fault.
His parting words last night had made her toss and turn all night long.
Her eyes suddenly narrowed, glinting like fire.
He thought he was so smart, that he could use the feelings he stirred in her to make everything okay between them.
No way, thought Khushi crossly.
He'd broken her trust. And he couldn't just pretend everything would return to normal overnight.
She wouldn't take any more of his games.
She was sick of being treated like a business deal.
And then the conditions she'd agreed to crossed her mind.
She suddenly smiled..it seemed Mr. CEO had not noticed a major loophole in his brilliant schemes.
But as Khushi showered and quickly dressed in a simple, dark blue sari, she saw the glaring flaw in her own plans:
How was she going to resist him?
When he was near, it was like she had no control over her own body, her own heart.
It felt like they belonged to him instead.
Khushi shook her head stubbornly.
No, she would be strong; would control her own longings, no matter how intense they might be.
Arnav Singh Raizada..he would see now that two could play this game..
Let the chaos begin..
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Arnav had arrived at his office, dressed in a crisp, black suit, hours before the doors to the company officially opened.
He needed the time to prepare himself..to think of his next move..
Everything had to be perfect.
It was Day 2 of his planned seduction of Ms. Gupta and today had to be better than yesterday.
He knew that last night he'd made her toss and turn..was sure of it. But today, he needed to throw her off..confuse her, he thought, smirking.
Khushi was very smart, he knew. It was only a matter of time before she figured out his plan.
Yes, he thought, crossing his arms, he had to throw her completely off track.
Arnav suddenly stood, pacing in his glass cabin.
What was the best way to go about this, he wondered?
And then he sighed, exasperated.
He shouldn't need to plan so much..he should do what seemed instinctively right to him.
After all, he was Khushi's best friend. He knew her better than she knew herself.
How could she possibly resist ASR + Nanav + Arnav?
Arnav grinned slightly at that.
As he turned away, heading back toward his chair, a movement caught his eye.
He turned toward the glass windows, his eyes widening as he looked below..
Khushi had just walked in.
She was dressed in a dark blue sari, which according to Arnav's penetrating gaze, seemed to be clinging to her each curve as if custom made.
Arnav's hands tightened into fists as he watched her walk by. His heart pounded.
Damn it! It was so stupid to be jealous of a piece of cloth. And yet he was. How badly he wished it was him touching her so intimately instead..his body wrapped around her so..
Damn it! How the hell was he going to get through this day..with her dressed like that, wondered Arnav, his lips thinning.
But even as Arnav forced himself to turn away, his mind reminded him that it wasn't only Khushi that had tossed and turned all night long..those fantasies had invaded his mind all night as well, leaving him gasping..
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Khushi's feet hesitated as she neared her plain, wooden desk.
Had it only been yesterday that she'd walked through these same halls dreaming of Nanav, she wondered?
Her world had changed overnight..ASR was Nanav. And as unbelievable as it still seemed, it was true.
A bright voice interrupted her thoughts.
"Good morning, Khushi!"
Khushi smiled at Aman; he was one of the few employees who was actually nice to her.
Maybe because they both worked directly for Mr. ASR.
"Good morning!" she replied, and then asked him her routine question, "How is the Laad Governor today?"
Aman shrugged, "I would be careful around him today, Khushi. Boss seems to be in a bad mood."
"Really?" asked Khushi, her eyebrow rising, "What makes you say that?"
Aman shook his head. "I don't know. An hour ago, I walked into his office and he was somewhat pleasant, even friendly. Shocking, right? And just minutes ago, I went back to talk about the conference today, and he threw a fit about some file..really," said Aman, exasperated, "I don't think I'll ever be able to understand him."
Khushi smiled at him understandingly, "I better get going then. See you at the conference."
Aman nodded, turning back to his desk which was piled sky-high with files and papers.
Khushi's smile turned into a full grin as she took her seat.
So..ASR was in a bad mood, was he? She had a pretty good idea about what may be the cause..
For a few minutes, Khushi pretended to type on the computer, but her heart was beating fast, urging her to glance up.
She lasted about a minute more.
And then she had to look up at him.
She expected Arnav to be looking right at her, a flirty smile on his face.
But Khushi frowned as she saw him typing away furiously on his laptop, not even glancing in her direction.
Disappointment filled Khushi.
She closed her eyes, whispering to herself: "Control yourself, Khushi. This is what you wanted, right?"
But his lack of response still stung.
Khushi was barely able to concentrate the rest of the morning, her eyes drifting every few minutes toward Arnav.
He was so handsome, she couldn't help but notice, as he sat there. The dark colored suit seemed to fit his lean body like a second skin.
A blush erupted across Khushi as she remembered the chiseled chest beneath the suit..it was like it was her secret, no one else knew about it but her. For some reason, that thought made Khushi sigh dreamily.
Even Arnav's hair looked perfect, noted Khushi, her hands itching to run through it.
Khushi glared at her hands like traitors..this was maddening.
Arnav was completely ignoring her, and yet here she was, hyperaware of his every movement, his every thought.
She was still admonishing herself, when his hard, masculine voice entered her mind.
Khushi..
Yes? she asked, trying to appear all nonchalant.
We have the conference in 10 minutes, are you all ready?
Khushi frowned, he wanted to talk about the meeting? After all that had happened last night?
Umm..yes, I'm ready.
Good, I want everything to be perfect. This conference is very important.
Khushi nodded at him through the glass door that separated them. His eyes though were all business as he met her gaze.
Two minutes later, Arnav walked out of his office, his stride fast.
He barely even stopped at her desk, or even looked at her, as he quickly said, "Let's go."
Khushi hurried to keep up with him.
The conference was taking place on the sixth floor, in one of the largest conference halls at AR Designs.
As Khushi stepped into the elevator with Arnav, she looked at him amazed.
Where was the flirtatious man who'd dropped her home? All she saw now was a cold, controlled businessman.
Khushi frowned slightly, pushing the up arrow button with a jab.
"Wait!" a voice cried from the hallway.
Arnav pushed his hand forward, trying to keep the elevator open.
But instead, a red nail polish painted, very female hand grasped his.
An unfamiliar woman stepped into the elevator, smiling widely, adjusting the falling strap of her short, green dress.
"Thanks, ASR," she said, beaming at Arnav. She glanced at Khushi frostily, turning her back toward her.
"No problem, Lavanya," said Arnav coolly.
The two launched into an animated discussion about the meeting and some party planned for tomorrow night.
Khushi stood behind them, her mouth open.
Who was this woman? And why was Arnav talking to her so easily?
She'd always thought he only talked to her so..
Khushi's chest constricted as she listened to their conversation. She noticed with narrowed, hardened eyes as Lavanya's hand grazed Arnav's sleeve every few seconds.
She'd never experienced jealousy before..never had felt so possessive before..
But now the feelings swamped her, blocking any other thought or desire. Her heart screamed at her to step between them..Arnav was hers. And only hers.
The elevator snapped open with a small ring.
Khushi followed Arnav and the woman out.
Arnav was whispering something to her, and as Lavanya laughed, Khushi's teeth clenched.
Was it just her or was the walk to the conference hall taking forever today?
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The conference room was already half-filled when they entered.
Around the large, oblong table sat several senior level employees and representatives from an international clothing company.
Khushi hesitated at the threshold.
Lavanya had thankfully left Arnav's side..she was now surrounded by a small posse of similarly dressed girls..they all looked at Khushi icily.
Arnav had already taken his seat at the head of the table.
When Khushi didn't enter and sit beside him, he turned toward the door, raising an eyebrow at her.
What are you waiting for, Khushi? I want the meeting to start on time,he said in her mind, sounding slightly grumpy.
Khushi nodded, but just then she saw Aman sitting across from Arnav, an empty chair beside him.
Khushi smiled softly. Two could play this game..
Arnav watched her walk toward him with hawk eyes, raking her body up and down.
Khushi gulped under that scrutiny, but stayed true to her plan.
She walked toward Arnav, as if she was about to sit beside him, but at the last moment, she turned, walking toward Aman instead.
"Hello Aman!" she greeted, her voice extra sweet and friendly.
Aman glanced up at her surprised, but smiled as she sat beside him.
Khushi talked to him in low voices for a few moments..doing her best to ignore the anger being aimed toward her..the black eyes that were glaring at her..
But she couldn't control her restless, crazy heart..she had to know his reaction.
With a small laugh, Khushi finally turned her eyes toward Arnav.
He was frowning at her and Aman, his eyes dark, his jaw tightened.
What the hell are you doing, princess? he asked, his voice rough and hard as steel.
What? asked Khushi, innocently, her eyes shining brightly.
He scowled at her again. You know what..never mind, I need you to take good notes. Sit next to me, he ordered.
Khushi stared fiercely back at him, No!
What! he said, surprised, his eyes darkening.
You heard me, ASR, she replied saucily, her eyes challenging him.
But before he had a chance to reply, Aman stood to give introductory remarks.
The representatives then launched into presentations, detailing their products.
Khushi was struggling to keep up with her notes.
She bit her bottom lip as she tried to concentrate.
But it was difficult when her heart yearned so for the brooding man sitting just across from her..
She shook her head defiantly.
She could do this. She didn't have to be a blushing, stammering girl every time he looked at her.
Plus, she wasn't ready to forgive him for the elevator incident.
He couldn't just ignore her one minute and then want her beside him the next.
No, thought Khushi frowning.
She was surprised though that Arnav wasn't speaking to her. Their minds were still connected, but he hadn't said a word..was he that mad she wondered?
But, as she glanced at him, she saw him engrossed in the presentation, not even paying any attention to her.
For some bizarre reason, Khushi couldn't help but feel crestfallen.
Another half-hour passed.
Khushi's hand throbbed as she tried to record everything.
Her back ached.
Sexy sari..
Surprise and confusion filled Khushi as those two, unexpected words echoed in her mind.
Had she imagined it? she wondered.
An amused voice laughed huskily in her mind, making her pulse race.
No, I said err thought it, admitted Arnav, your sari is very, very sexy.
Khushi turned bright red as the words finally penetrated. She glanced up at Arnav, shocked.
But he was pretending to be listening to what a senior advisor was telling him.
What?
You heard me, princess.
Stop it! This isn't the time for.. Khushi's voice trailed off, unable to continue. She felt slightly breathless.
For what? asked Arnav naughtily, turning his head just barely in her direction.
Khushi watched stunned as he winked at her, before turning to the advisor again, nodding as if he was listening intently.
You know what, she replied snappily, repeating the phrase he'd used earlier.
Oh really? asked Arnav, crossing his hands. I think it's the perfect time.
Khushi frowned, trying to end their mental conversation.
Tut, tut, he said mockingly, you promised, remember?
Khushi fumed, but then she remembered the loophole she'd discovered.
For all your plans, you forgot one detail, Mr. ASR.
What? he asked, still appearing so calm and serene it set Khushi's teeth on edge.
You made me promise I would let you into my mind for the next one month..but I never agreed to talk back to you.
Khushi smiled triumphantly across at him. So this is it. I'm not going to talk to you a word after this.
She looked across at him steadily, but his eyes were twinkling as they met hers.
Game on, princess..
Khushi met his heated gaze with narrowed eyes.
For a few minutes, neither spoke.
And then Arnav asked in a teasing way, So you're really not going to talk to me?
Khushi was about to answer, but then remembered herself.
She remained adamantly silent, shaking her head at him.
Fine, he replied, smirking.
For a few more minutes there was silence from both ends.
Khushi sighed with relief, maybe Arnav was going to leave her alone after all.
She didn't know whether to be happy or sad.
But then, as Aman passed her a bottle of water, and she smiled at him extra sweetly in response, Arnav's rugged, steely voice cut across her mind:
Who are you trying to fool, Khushi? We both know it's not a boy you want, but a man instead.
Khushi's eyes rounded, but she refused to answer him.
Arnav though wouldn't leave her this time, asking matter-of-factly:
By the way, did I tell you how sexy your sari is?
Khushi tried to ignore him. His words made everything erupt into chaos inside of her. She clenched her mouth tightly as she tried to pay attention to what a short, rotund speaker was saying instead, but it was impossible..
Arnav was making it impossible.
His voice had become husky now, so tempting..
His eyes darkened as he gazed at her from across the table.
I love the way that sari fits you, Khushi..the way it clings to your hips, your waist, your boo--.
Khushi's eyes widened at that half-finished word. Her heart raced, her hands fisted tightly in her lap.
Dear God, what was Arnav trying to do to her?
Arnav grinned slyly as he observed her. His voice was very low, very seductive as he said, I especially love that low blouse, peeking out at me..very naughtily too.
Khushi gasped, covering her chest with a shaky hand.
Aman leaned toward her, concerned. "Are you alright, Khushi?" he whispered.
Khushi could barely manage a nod, her lips compressed tightly.
Oh, baby, we both know you're not alright. Why lie, Khushi?
Khushi stared up across him, shocked. He stared right back at her, his eyes glinting wolfishly.
Khushi..Talk to me, princess..You know you want to..
She shook her head at him furiously.
Arnav seemed to smirk at her. You know what I want, Khushi?
Khushi couldn't stop herself from looking up at him. For some reason, she needed to know the answer to that question.
He met her questioning eyes with a heated gaze. Khushi felt rooted to the spot, she couldn't look away from him..
I want to take that sari off of you.
Khushi's mouth went dry at that, her heart hammered in her chest.
I want to take it off slowly..and then place you down..on red, silk sheets.
Khushi's eyes widened at that. Red, silk sheets!
Her dream from that very morning flashed before her eyes, and because his mind was at that moment connected to hers, and because she could barely control her thoughts, the dream leaked to him..as clearly as if he had dreamed it..
Khushi's eyes widened as she realized what had happened. She tried to stop him from seeing the images, but it was too late.
The dream had already gone to him.
Khushi felt like sinking into the ground as she met his glittering, slightly arrogant expression.
She closed her eyes tightly, so embarrassed.
Shh, princess. It's okay. It's normal to have such fantasies..you're a woman now.
Her eyes slightly opened at his words. But the blush refused to leave her.
Arnav sighed patiently, he knew her so well. Knew she was ashamed of her thoughts even though there was no need to be..she was his and he was hers.
So he closed his eyes and purposely sent his own dreams to her.

Khushi gasped as his fantasies hit her.

They all involved her. In them, Arnav and she were locked in passionate embraces in every place imaginable..in every way..

She couldn't breathe.

Dear God, her dreams had been nothing close to his..not remotely so..
Nothing could have prepared her for such passion.
She could barely swallow as she met his hungry eyes..his desire visible for the first time to her..
She suddenly had to leave.
She couldn't handle this right now.
Goodness, what was she doing? It was wrong to have these thoughts, let alone share them with him.
He was ASR..the man who scared her to death..how could she be fantasizing about him?
Despite his protests in her head, she got up suddenly, reaching for the door handle.
Arnav rose to follow, waving off Aman's offer to go after Khushi with a glare.
Aman shook his head as he watched his boss leave..would he ever understand ASR, he wondered confused..
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Khushi walked out into an empty hallway, trying to control her rapidly beating heart.
She closed her eyes, but Arnav's dreams passed before her eyes again, leaving her breathless.
She'd never felt anything like this before..passion this powerful..
It scared her slightly.
Suddenly, she felt a familiar presence behind her.
Khushi..baby, turn around, his masculine voice said.
When she didn't move, Arnav's hand gently pulled her backward, so that her back fell against his chest.
"Please, princess.." he whispered gently against her hair, sending tendrils of fire coursing through her.
Khushi closed her eyes for moment, but then turned toward him, her eyes still wide, her mouth slightly open, her expression perplexed.
She took a few steps back as her eyes locked with his.
Arnav though only stared across at her tenderly.
He opened his mouth to say something, but Khushi broke her own promise just then, whispering urgently:
If you care for me at all..leave me alone right now!
She didn't wait for his reply, she simply ran, as fast she could...away from him..away from the intense emotions he stirred in her..
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Arnav sighed as he watched a flustered Khushi leave.
How long would she keep running from her own feelings, he wondered?
His body still felt stiff from the images they'd shared.
How much he wished they were real..memories instead of dreams.
But as the meeting ended, and he realized Khushi had gone home, apparently sick, he couldn't help, but smile slightly.
Today, he'd given her just a taste of his desires..Khushi would not be able to resist him.
Still, he didn't want to move too quickly. She was so innocent.
So, even though he didn't want to, he decided to leave her alone the rest of the day.
It wasn't ASR's original plan, but he was Nanav too..Khushi's best friend and he knew that she needed time.
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It had been an impossibly long day for Khushi.
She'd gone to her apartment to try to forget him..but it had been an impossible task.
Arnav's image kept flashing before her eyes, his words kept echoing in her soul.
Sexy sari..the way it clings to your hips, your waist, your boo--..You know what I want, Khushi?.. I want to take that sari off of you..place you on red, silk sheets..
Khushi groaned. Arnav confused her so much, made her feel so many new emotions.
And it didn't help that she loved him so deeply..so desperately.
So even though she wanted to be mad at him, she couldn't be.
She missed him so much.
As night fell, she was only just able to stop herself from calling out him.
But she needed the time alone.
Needed to come to terms with the chaos within her.
For the past two days, she'd tried to tell herself that she'd fallen in love with Nanav only..that her love couldn't possibly extend to Arnav.
But now she saw that she'd built up Nanav in her head as a perfect boy.  Arnav, she realized, with her heart pounding, was a man.
And she was glad for it; her dreams about him had been very childish from the start.
But still, thought Khushi, nibbling on her lip, what about his ASR side? What about that? Was she strong enough to accept that..love that? Was she ready to forgive him?
Confusion enveloped her.
The night that followed left her tossing and turning all over again, except this time, her fantasies were built from his.
She'd never imagined all that he had..
Khushi woke up late into the morning, much later than normal for her.
She smiled softly then..today was Saturday and AR Designs was closed on the weekends..she didn't have to confront ASR today.
She still had some time to think everything through.
After she showered, dressed, and ate a late breakfast, she pondered the day ahead..it would be difficult without Arnav near.
And then she smiled..of course! She knew just how to spend the time..divert her mind from Arnav's tempting words and fantasies..
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Buaji's house was about 30 minutes away from Khushi's apartment in a small, crowded street.
Buaji seemed surprised to see her, but quickly led Khushi inside, asking her all about her new job, her new apartment, her new boss..
"I wish you would stay with me, Khushi. It's not right for a young woman to stay all alone when family is so near."
Khushi smiled at her reassuringly, "I'm fine there, Buaji. And plus, I'm so close to my office. Here, the traffic would make me late every day."
Buaji nodded, and then jumped up, pulling Khushi toward the kitchen, "Come on. I was just making lunch when you rang the bell."
"Let's go," said Khushi, laughing softly, "I'll make jalebis for us!"
Khushi tied her hair up into a loose ponytail, quickly mixing the ingredients, as she listened to Buaji tell her the neighborhood news..
"And you'll never guess what happened to Happy..that poor man.." said Buaji, giggling, "He was--"
But Khushi never heard what the garage owner next door had done.
Because just then, a familiar, sexy voice entered her head..
Morning, princess.
Khushi's eyes widened in surprise.
Come on, Khushi. Please tell me you're still not playing that silly silence game.
Khushi frowned softly. I don't want to talk to you.
Khushi..he whispered enticingly.
She tried to ignore him, but his voice snaked down her, as if he was in the kitchen with her.
Arnav sighed and then went right to the heart of the matter. Khushi, there's no reason to be embarrassed.
Khushi's lips tightened. Yes, there is. What we shared was so wrong.
Arnav sighed. No, princess. It's perfectly normal. Just give it a chance, okay?
Khushi shook her head, You promised me you would leave me alone.
I promised you yesterday and did I talk to you even once after the conference? No, right?
Khushi didn't answer.
Stop it, Khushi. Talk to me!
Khushi frowned but didn't reply.
Buaji looked at her concerned, was it her or was her niece going loopy?
"Sanka Devi! What is wrong with you? I've been calling your name for the past three minutes! Why aren't you answering?"
Khushi shifted guiltily under her aunt's sharp gaze.
"Sorry, Buaji. I was just so focused on these jalebis.." she muttered unconvincingly.
Buaji thankfully though only sighed loudly and turned away, muttering under her breath.
Khushi closed her eyes.
It's all your fault, Arnav.
My fault again?
Of course!
But she sensed him smiling. What? Are you laughing because Buaji thinks I'm crazy now? asked Khushi, dropping more jalebis into the simmering oil.
Arnav grinned as he lay back on his chaise lounge. No, princess. I'm smiling because you called me Arnav.
Oh, said Khushi, flushing slightly.
I liked it..a lot.
Khushi tried to ignore his tantalizing voice. I'm busy, Arnav, she said, trying to focus on the jalebis.
Yeah, me too, said Arnav, rising to walk to the spacious bathroom connected to his room.
But you don't have to go to the office today..What are you doing?asked Khushi hesitantly, her curiosity peaking.
Oh, nothing, said Arnav innocently. Just taking a bath..under the hot spray of the shower..
Khushi's eyes rounded..it sounded so much like her own fantasies, the ones she wrote about in her diary, except that--
God, Khushi, I wish you were here with me..
Khushi's eyes widened even more if possible, a spoon fell out of her suddenly limp fingers. What!
Arnav grinned as he undressed and stepped into the shower.. I wish you were here, princess..you could be lathering me up, washing my body, while I did the same to you.
!!!!
Arnav grinned as her shock and buried desire hit him with full force.
I'm imagining you here, Khushi.. with me..against me.. he whispered to her, his voice low and hard.
Khushi turned red as vivid images flashed before her.
Dear God..
Arnav, stop it! I'm standing in Buaji's kitchen!
So? he asked naughtily, I can imagine us there too.
Khushi struggled to breathe as he sent her one vivid fantasy after another thought their link.
She closed her eyes tightly, Please, just leave me alone for today.
Can't do that, princess. Today is the office party, remember? We will have to meet tonight.
Meet him? Khushi didn't think she could even face him right now.
I don't think I can come to the party, she said quickly.
It's mandatory, Khushi.
Since when?
Since now..from this second..
You can't do that!
Oh, princess, yes I can. I'm the CEO.
Khushi grumbled under her breath, causing Buaji to look at her weirdly.
Khushi managed to smile at her aunt through clenched teeth.
Fine..I'll come. Okay, now please stop talking to me, Buaji's looking at me like I'm mental or something..
Arnav laughed as he turned off the shower and reached for his towel,Sure, Khushi. I look forward to seeing you in just a few hours.
Khushi sighed in relief as Arnav turned off their connection.
She didn't know why, but she had a feeling this party would not go as planned.
She had to do something..
Suddenly, a brilliant idea came to her.
"Buaji, I'll be right back!"
"Where are you going, Sanka Devi? The jalebis will burn!" she shouted.
But Khushi was already at the phone, her nimble fingers dialing.
Her coworker picked up at the second ring.
"Hi, Aman!" said Khushi brightly, her eyes twinkling with mischief.
Two could play these mind games..
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Just a small distance from Khushi, in Raizada Mansion, Arnav reached for his own cell phone.
He had the best idea..
Lavanya picked up at the first ring.
Arnav smiled deviously..let the chaos continue..
Part V: Red
Khushi scrutinized herself closely in her large bathroom mirror.
She'd spent over an hour on her makeup alone. Pale pink lipstick covered her full lips, black kohl outlined her eyes, a warm blush accentuated her high cheekbones.
Khushi sighed as she combed her long mass of black hair.
She couldn't believe she was worrying so much about an office party, one that she didn't even want to go to.
And yet here she was, trying to look perfect..for him.
She frowned softly as she put on a simple pair of dangling earrings and matching necklace. They were an old handed-down pair from Buaji. Khushi had always loved them, but now, her eyes ran over the jewelry critically.
They weren't very fashionable, she noted, hopelessly. Completed out-dated in fact. Goodness, it looked like Buaji's Buaji had worn them herself once upon a time.
But they would have to do. She didn't own anything else suitable.
Khushi tried to smile at herself reassuringly in the mirror.
She could do this..She could beat Arnav at his own game.
Who did he think he was? That he could wreck havoc in her one night, then ignore her the very next morning, then send her mind spinning with hot fantasies the next?
No, thought Khushi with a glimmer in her eyes, he would have to stop treating her like some deal..like some game.
The doorbell rang just then.
Khushi's eyes widened and she hurried to the door, clipping on Buaji's earrings last minute.
Aman stood at the doorway, dressed in a formal white suit.
"Hi!" he said, smiling at her, "You look wonderful."
Khushi tried to smile at him.
"Thanks.." she said hesitantly, "And thanks for coming along with me."
"No problem. Like you said on the phone, why go alone when we can go together as friends?"
Khushi nodded. Yes, they were going as friends, and Aman thankfully did not expect anything more than that.
Yet, Khushi still felt guilty as he helped her into his compact car. Because even though they both knew they were just friends, she knew in her heart that she'd only called Aman this morning so that a certain Mr. ASR would think something else entirely..
Maybe this wasn't such a great idea, thought Khushi, her heart pounding.
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Arnav meanwhile was having one of the worst headaches of his life.
Lavanya was at his side, going on and on about something. He'd lost track of the topic for some time now.
Damn it, he thought, maybe this wasn't his best idea ever.
He'd asked Lavanya to be his co-host for the evening just to annoy Khushi, just so Khushi would finally admit to having feelings for him.
The fantasies they'd shared yesterday proved there was passion simmering between them, a heat that refused to die. But still, he wanted to hear those three small words from her delectable mouth..needed to hear them so badly..
He was prone to making increasingly stupid plans just to hear them. His control was slipping..how much longer would she make him wait, he wondered?
"Look, ASR," said Lavanya loudly, making Arnav's ears ring, "I wore a sari tonight. I noticed you liked the Indian look at last month's calendar launch."
Arnav nodded half-heartedly. His head throbbed dully as Lavanya went on about everyone's attire at the party.
"I mean, look at that woman, can you believe someone would wear that tragedy of a dress? And that man.."
Arnav tried to block her droning voice out.
And, yet he too was looking at the crowd gathered around them. Although it was for an entirely different reason..
Where was she?
Khushi should have been here by now, thought Arnav, glancing at his watch with a frown.
He was just about to call out to her through their mental connection when he sensed something..
Like something had changed in the air around him..something that made his heart pick up speed, something that left him breathless..
He turned his head toward the stairs slowly.
And there she was.
Arnav's heart pounded as he watched Khushi descend the main staircase.
She was dressed in his favorite color..red.
He swallowed hard as his eyes raked over the bright red sari that clung to her each curve.
His hands fisted at his sides.
How was he going to keep his hands off of her tonight, he wondered?
He ached to hold her..touch her..
For a second their eyes met from across the room. His heart pounded as love and desire coursed through him.
God, but she was beautiful..the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen.
He was so focused on Khushi that he didn't notice the man behind her until the pair reached the bottom step.
Arnav's eyes narrowed with shock.
He saw red.
What the hell was Aman doing here with his Khushi?
Khushi was HIS, and he was HERS.
And then, as he watched, the stupid boy actually had the nerve to pull out a crumpled rose out of his shirt pocket, handing it to Khushi.
Arnav's eyes flashed as he saw Khushi smile at Aman. Was it just him or was she was smiling extra widely?
He spoke to her without thinking..Khushi!
-------------------------------------------------------------
Khushi had walked down the main staircase amazed.
She'd expected the office party to be a small gathering..nothing could have prepared her for the lavishly decorated ballroom..the glowing, pink hues highlighting everything..the band strumming love songs in the corner..
She smiled, shaking her head. Leave it to Arnav to make sure everything was perfect.
She'd just said his name when she sensed something change around her..
That annoying tune floated through her head..Rabba ve..
She shook her head, and then stilled.
There he was.
She saw Arnav more clearly as the crowd parted. He was standing off to the side of the dance floor, leaning against a pillar.
Khushi's heart seemed to skip a beat as her eyes ran over him hungrily.
Goodness, how was she going to stick to her plan with him looking like that, she wondered?
She'd seen him in so many suits, but the black tux made him look unbelievable handsome.. incredibly masculine..
Her heart pounded when their eyes met across the crowded dance floor for a split second. It felt like an electric jolt ran through her body as their gazes locked.
But just then, she noticed the woman at his side..that elevator woman, dressed in a bright blue sari.
Khushi's eyes narrowed. She looked away from Arnav, smiling extra sweetly at Aman instead.
What was he doing with that Lavanya, she wondered angrily, her jealousy returning so quickly it was as if it had never left.
Aman pulled out a half crushed rose toward her, looking shy in the dim light. "My younger sister told me to give it to you. She's twelve."
Khushi smiled at him widely, accepting the rose with a smile.
They were just discussing their families, when his angry voice entered her mind..
Khushi!
Khushi refused to answer, walking with Aman toward an empty, round table.
Arnav watched her walk away with heated eyes. When had she learned to walk like that, he wondered, suddenly agitated.. with her hips swaying so beneath her intricately draped sari?
KHUSHI! he yelled again. Speak to me damn it!
As she sat down on the cushioned seat and took a sip of her coke, Khushi's glittery eyes met Arnav's stormy ones across the room.
What? she asked shortly.
He frowned at her. What the hell are you doing here with that idiot?
Khushi frowned right back at him. His name is Aman, as I'm sure you know. And he happens to be my date for the evening.
Arnav saw red as those words entered his mind. What the--
And anyways, interrupted Khushi, You're one to talk. Bringing that woman along..
Arnav smirked at that. Finally, he had something to latch onto.
She has a name, as I'm sure you already know.
He suddenly turned toward where Aman and Khushi sat, his eyes dark and unreadable.
Khushi's eyes rounded as she watched him head in her direction.
Goodness, he was so sleek and masculine..it made her pulse race. The fantasies they'd shared washed over her again, making her chest heave.
"Good evening, Aman..Hello, Ms. Gupta," said Arnav icily.
Khushi felt a tendril of dread spread in her as he said her name in that tone.
"Boss!" said Aman turning around, "What a pleasant surprise."
"Mind if I sit?" asked Arnav, glancing at Khushi with hot eyes.
Aman was oblivious to it all. "Not at all. I'll go get you a drink. Your usual, right?"
Arnav nodded, his eyes still on Khushi.
As Aman left them alone, Khushi had an unnatural urge to call him back.. did he have any idea whom he'd left her with?
Khushi gulped as she met Arnav's dark eyes.
"So Ms. Gupta, how do you like the party?" he asked pointedly.  No one around them would have noticed anything abnormal in his words, but Khushi heard the underlying hard edge in his voice, the false note to each syllable..
"Enjoying the party, are you?" he continued, mockingly, his eyes glittering across at her.
Khushi's eyes narrowed. Oh, so now he was mad at her..when it was her that had a hundred reasons to be mad at him.
"Yes, I am," she replied firmly, challenging him with her flashing eyes.
If felt weird to talk to him out loud. But Khushi's annoyance propelled her forward.
Arnav found it hard to control himself when he saw the anger pool in her eyes, the reddened tinge on her glowing face..
Hell, she was even more beautiful when she was all angry at him.
Control, Arnav, control, he told himself.
Aman returned just then with a few drinks and friends in tow.
As they greeted Arnav and Khushi and sat down to talk, no one realized there was a mind argument happening in their midst.
Why did you bring Aman?
Why did you bring Lavanya?
I asked you first.
I don't care, Mr. ASR.
Arnav's eyes darkened. Oh, so I'm back to being ASR now? What happened to Arnav?
I don't know, replied Khushi frostily.
She turned her eyes away from him for a moment, smiling at what Aman was saying.
A red haze surrounded Arnav again as he noted their closeness.
Does your date know about who you fantasize about? Whose body you long to touch? Whose thoughts keep you up at night, tossing and turning?
Khushi blushed as she met his gaze.
Stop it!
No, he said fiercely. This time I'm not backing down. You will have to answer my questions.
There's nothing to say. You brought a date, and I brought a date. So why don't we just ignore each other the rest of the night?
Not going to happen, Khushi. No way.
There's nothing you can do, ASR.
Watch me, princess.
Arnav suddenly rose, surprising the entire group around the round table, startling Khushi so much she almost spilled her drink all over herself.
His eyes were hard as they met Khushi's wide-eyed gaze.
Khushi's heart pounded as he walked to her side, stopping just an inch away from her.
He suddenly extended his hand down to her, asking gruffly, "Will you dance with me, Ms. Gupta?"
Everyone looked just as shocked as Khushi at his request.
"Go on, Khushi," said Aman, encouragingly. The other employees nodded at her expectantly.
Khushi had no choice it seemed. Her eyes looked up into Arnav's glittering, midnight black eyes with disbelief. But he only raised an eyebrow at her.
I'm waiting, princess. Don't make me pick you up in my arms because you know I will. I don't give a damn to anyone here except us.
Khushi inhaled sharply and gingerly placed her hand in his.
His hand enveloped hers the second their palms touched, his fingers entwined with hers possessively.
Khushi shuddered as a bolt of heat rushed through her at the contact.
Arnav pulled her quickly into the middle of the packed dance floor, away from the curious gazes of Aman and the rest of the group.
For a second, they just gazed at each other.
Khushi's heart pounded as she saw the anger in his gaze, recognized the tension in his stiff body.
She didn't have a moment to think though as he roughly pulled her into his arms.
Khushi froze as she felt his firm body against hers.  The same heat that always coursed through her when he was near enveloped her, making it difficult for her to concentrate.
She tried to ignore him, to focus on the music instead.
The band was playing a soft love song. But Arnav's hands on her body were not the least bit gentle. His grip was hard as he crushed her against him, leaving not an inch of space between them.
He suddenly leaned down toward her, his breath hot against her hair.
This is how I imagined you against me in the shower this morning, he admitted softly.
Khushi could barely breathe as his hold on her tightened.
His hands moved up and down her back, settling around her slim waist.
Khushi hissed as his hands gripped her. Goodness, what was he doing to her?
But she tried to be confident, saying softly to him: Two can play this game, ASR..
With a twinkle in her eyes, she pushed her hands upward, slowly up across his chest, to his broad shoulders. Her fingers clenched around him tightly.
He watched her with dark, turbulent eyes.
Khushi smiled at him as she looped her arms around his neck.
Arnav inhaled sharply. Her movement had pushed her even closer to him..her breasts seemed to flatten against the hard planes of his chest.
Heat pulsed between them.
His eyes flashed down at hers. Then let's play it..let's play some mind games..
His hands moved lower down her back with purpose, holding her indecently low.
Khushi could barely think..barely breathe as she felt him stroke her through the thin sari.
She was thankful for the darkness surrounding them as she felt him touch her curves.
And then, Arnav began to move his hips against her, his movements slow and firm.
Khushi's eyes widened. What are you doing, Arnav? she cried, shocked, trying to move away.
But he held on to her fast. Dancing, princess..
Dancing? wondered Khushi, stunned. She knew what that was, but what Arnav was doing to her was something else entirely.
She clamped her mouth tightly shut as he moved against her on the dance floor.
Her eyes closed as he pressed himself to her.
Her body arched up, molding to his.
Arnav was quickly losing control as he "danced" with her. And yet, he couldn't stop.
He moved restlessly against her.
His eyes closed at the sweet friction between them.
Khushi meanwhile was barely hanging on. If it wasn't for his support, she would have fallen, limp against him. Never had she felt anything like this before..
And just when she thought she was adjusting to his movements, he shocked her once more.
His hands shifted even lower and he suddenly picked her up slightly, twirling her in a small circle.
As he placed her back on the ground, he allowed her body to slide alongside his. They both inhaled sharply as her hips, waist, and chest slid over his stiff body. Desire pooled in both of their eyes.
They danced through another song, each relishing the feel of the other.
Arnav..
Khushi..
Suddenly, Khushi's eyes flew open.
Goodness, what was she doing?
They were basically all over each other before all of the employees at AR Designs. What if someone noticed them in the darkness?
She froze in his arms, and quickly pushed herself away, running out of the room.
Arnav's jaw tightened as he watched her go, but then a resolute glint came into his eyes.
Enough was enough.
He wouldn't leave her alone this time, he vowed.

Khushi ran through the doors out into the almost empty hallway.

If she just got away from him for a minute, she would be able to think properly again..would be able to control herself again..

A blush stained her cheeks as she recalled their dance.

What had she been thinking?

But just then, a strong hand wrapped around her waist, pulling her away.

Khushi's eyes widened as she looked up at Arnav.

What are you doing? Let go!

No! he said suddenly furious.

She tried to remove his hand off of her bare skin, but it was useless. She was no match for his strength.

Stop it, ASR! Someone will see.

Who the hell cares? he ground out, frowning down at her.
Khushi tried to hide his hand on her with her sari, but it was futile.
Suddenly, she saw a group of her coworkers, including Aman and his friends, rounding a nearby corner.
Panic filled her. It would be so humiliating to be caught like this with the boss of the company. They'd never leave her alone.
Let go! she whispered urgently. Please, Arnav, please..she whispered.
Arnav sighed annoyed as he recognized her fear and embarrassment.
God, he thought, when would she accept him?
Khushi fought against his hold.
Just a few more seconds, and everyone would see them..
But at the last moment, Arnav pulled her sideways into a small room she hadn't noticed.
Khushi sighed with relief as she watched her co-workers walk by.
She leaned back against the closed door, a hand reaching toward her pounding heart.  She felt Arnav's gaze on her though, and slowly opened her eyes, looking at him with a shy smile.
He frowned right back at her.
But Khushi barely noticed, her eyes were drawn to the room they were in.
It was a small, empty room with racks of hangers filled with coats and jackets spread in every direction.
The coat room? she asked, surprised.
She reached for the door handle. But his hand blocked her.
She turned toward him with a frown crossing her face.
No! You're not leaving until you tell me what you feel for me, he said firmly.
Khushi saw red at his words.
So, you expect me to tell you what I feel, but you won't tell me? she asked angrily.
He frowned down at her confused.
I already told you..on the way from the construction site to your apartment, he explained as if she was a child.
Khushi shook her head, That's all you have to say to me? Something about how you care for me..how you want a relationship with me?
Khushi pushed against his chest with anger.
Arnav was shocked as she pushed him back against the only bare wall in the crowded coat room.
His hands grasped her upper arms fiercely, At least I've said something. You haven't said a single damn word.
Khushi frowned at him. Let go of me. I have to get back to the party. I'm sure Aman is waiting to "dance" with me.
Arnav eyes narrowed dangerously at her words. To think of her like that with any other man..
It set his teeth on edge. His jaw tightened with barely controlled rage.
He pulled her roughly into his arms.
Like hell you will! he shouted, his hold on her firm.
But Khushi didn't back down. She glared up at him defiantly. And how will you stop me, ASR?
"Like this." Arnav was barely thinking as he pulled her closer. His hands cupped her face, his head neared hers.
Khushi froze as his mouth crushed hers, hard and possessive.
She gasped and he took instant advantage, his tongue quickly entering her, tasting her.
She could barely think as she found herself responding to his urgent kisses.
She stared up at him shocked. But his eyes were hot as they met hers.
And just like that, the hands that had been pushing him away pulled him closer instead. Her lips beckoned his, demanding harder and firmer kisses.
They went up in smoke.
Arnav's mouth clung to hers, as he poured his love into her.
Their kisses were hungry, all consuming.
For so long they'd wanted this..and now it seemed like the floodgate had burst opened. Their passion exploded around them, setting everything ablaze.
Arnav urgently reached for the end of her sari, pushing the flimsy barrier away. His hands went around her, reaching for the ties of her blouse.
Khushi moaned as he pulled her closer, dropping firm kisses along the slope of her neck, along her low-cut blouse.
Khushi's head tilted back and Arnav reached up once more, seeking her lips.
Khushi's hands tugged on his hair, pulling him closer still.
Arnav growled as her hands moved lower, massaging his back with desperate strokes.
His hands tightened on her bare waist and he hoisted her up.
Khushi was mindless to everything as her legs wrapped around his waist, her hands looped around his neck.
Khushi moaned as Arnav kissed her deeply. His touch was like fire, igniting everything inside of her.
Suddenly, Arnav turned so that her back was against the wall, her legs still locked around him.
He moved his lips away from her moist mouth for a second.
Khushi made a small noise of protest, trying to bring him back towards her.
But his words made her still against him.
Marry me, Khushi.
Her eyes widened. The fog of passion left her as quickly as it had come.
She looked down at her half undressed body ashamed.
What was she doing?
And what was Arnav thinking? Marry him?
He hadn't said one word of love, she noted, her heart twisting. Just gone straight to the deal, like a true businessman.
Had she expected anything more?
Her eyes stung when he said nothing more, just waited for her response as if he knew she'd say yes.
Her eyes flashed at that.
She pulled on her sari quickly, reaching for the door handle once more.
Khushi? he asked, confused.
Khushi's heart tugged as she looked at him. How much she wanted to say yes..but something in her was stopping her.
No, she said softly, I can't marry you.
And then she walked out, leaving him shattered.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Arnav never knew such pain existed as he followed Khushi out.
He'd been so confident she'd say yes..that all of his dreams would come true..
His heart tugged in his chest painfully.
He stared at Khushi's back as she hurried from him.
To think that just moments ago, his fingers had been stroking that very back, pulling her tighter against him..
A voice stopped them both.
"Gupta, what are you doing here?" asked Lavanya ahead.
"Nothing," he heard Khushi reply, her hands self-consciously adjusting her slightly disheveled hair.
Lavanya frowned at her.
"Is there a problem, Lavanya?" asked Arnav, coming to a stop alongside them.
He felt Khushi stiffen beside him, but he wouldn't allow himself to look at her.
But Lavanya turned him so he had no choice but to meet Khushi's gaze..
The memory of their frantic, heated kisses in the coat room passed between them. Followed by her reply to his proposal.
His eyes hardened.
"There you are, ASR," said Lavanya, "Look, she's leaving the party without even asking permission. This party is mandatary, Gupta."
But Arnav shook his head, his eyes still locked with Khushi's.
"Let her go," he said coldly, walking away.
Lavanya hurried to catch up with him.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Khushi was crying as she left the party venue.
It was dark out and not a taxi was in sight, but she didn't care.
Dear God, she'd ruined everything..their friendship..their relationship.
Suddenly, she knew she'd made a huge mistake.
Had realized it the second Arnav had walked away from her.
Nothing could have been more painful than to see him walk away from her willingly.
She loved him..she loved ASR..there were no doubts left in her anymore.
Her heart sank as she remembered her cold words to his proposal.
What had she been thinking?
She had never imagined he would "let her go," as he'd said. She'd never seen his eyes look at her so detachedly.
Had she lost him forever, she wondered?
Just then, hard hands grabbed her.
Khushi knew right away it wasn't Arnav. A tall, unfamiliar man stood before her. He looked drunk, his breath made Khushi gag.
"Let me go!" she yelled.
But the stranger pulled her purse off her shoulder, running away as suddenly as he'd come.
"Stop!" shouted Khushi.
Cold air nipped at her shoulder.
Khushi's eyes widened as she looked down at herself.
In the process of snatching her purse, the man had ripped her blouse. The beautiful red material hung in tatters around her right shoulder. Khushi noted with disgust dark bruises streaking across her skin underneath.
Ahead, she could see more dark, shadowy figures.
Her feet hesitated.
She had no money, no way of getting home, and this area was clearly not safe.
Her eyes closed as she realized what she had to do. But she had no choice.
She softly called, Arnav..
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Arnav threw his coat into the backseat of his white jeep with a curse. He was just reversing when her voice entered his mind.
He ignored it, trying not to think of her.
But her voice continued to haunt his mind, Please, Arnav. Please, say something..I need your help.
His hands tightened on the steering wheel as he heard her plea. Damn it, but he couldn't ignore it..her panic hit him like waves.
What? he ground out.
I need help, my purse got stolen.
Arnav's heart pounded. For a moment, he forgot all about her rejection. WHAT? Are you okay?
Khushi sighed happily. Maybe all was not lost. Yes, I just don't know what to do..
Where are you?
She told him roughly where she was.
What the hell are you doing in that part of town at this time of night..damn it, Khushi, you're not a child any longer.
Khushi didn't argue with him, just saying softly, Please, hurry Arnav.
Arnav stepped on the accelerator, driving faster than he'd ever driven before.
-----------------------------------------------------------
He found her minutes later on the side of a barren road, looking very frail as his headlights landed on her.
"Are you okay?" he couldn't stop himself from asking as she climbed in.
He tried to read her expression, but it was too dark to see anything more than her faint outline.
"Yes," she said softly, curling into a small ball.
Arnav didn't say a word more as he drove toward her apartment building.
Tears escaped Khushi's eyes as she looked at his tightly compressed lips, his tense face. She remembered with sudden clarity those same lips locked with hers..that face gasping in ecstasy..
Arnav..she began.
But he cut her off icily, We're here.
Khushi swallowed as she reached for the door handle.
As she climbed out, the streetlight outside fell on her finally, revealing her to Arnav's searching gaze.
He noted her frail appearance with a grimace but then his eyes widened.
What the hell happened to your blouse!? he shouted, his voice rough.
Arnav quickly sprang out of the jeep, rushing toward Khushi.
He turned her toward him before she could answer.
His hands shifted through the torn fabric.
His eyes darkened as he looked at the bruises marring her pale skin beneath.
Khushi! Answer me, damn it!
Khushi hiccupped, Some guy snatched my purse, ripped my blouse, she whispered, crying.
Arnav's eyes darkened at her words, his hands fisted tightly. What the hell, Khushi! You should have told me earlier. Damn, I wish I could get my hands on that criminal.
Suddenly, she couldn't hold back any longer. He cared for her..still..
She reached for him.
She thought he'd push her away, but his hands wrapped around her tightly.
Hush, baby..You're alright, princess..I've got you now, Khushi, he mumbled over and over, as she cried against him.
After several minutes, Khushi leaned off of him.
Sorry, she whispered shyly, wiping her tears.
But his words were cold as he replied out loud. "That was my weakness. I've never been able to see you in pain. But I remember what you said earlier, and so this changes nothing between us. Our mind games are over. I won't bother you anymore. When we meet at the office on Monday, I will be only your boss and you will be only my employee."
Khushi's heart broke at his words.
No, she had to explain..had to make him see that she'd only wanted his love..
But it was like she was frozen, she couldn't say a word as he drove away, taking her heart with him..
-------------------------------------------------------------------
That night, she tossed and turned, but for once it wasn't due to fantasies..but instead nightmares.
Nightmares of Arnav leaving her forever..never speaking to her..never loving her..
She woke up very early, unable to sleep.
As she watched the sun rise outside, glowing in shades of gold and amber, she realize that she couldn't give up.
Not when she'd finally realized how much she loved Arnav.
She loved him more than anything..every shade of him, be it Arnav, Nanav, or ASR. And she no longer cared what anyone thought.
She loved him so much it shook her up inside.
They'd both acted foolishly last night, wanting the other to admit their feelings while offering very little in return.
She wished she could go back in time and say yes to his proposal, kiss him wildly..she was sure he'd have said 'I love you' right after.
A plan suddenly came to her head.
She smiled softly, she knew exactly what she had to do.
Mr. Raizada was very stubborn, but so was she, she'd make him talk to her once more..make him love her back..
It was time to use his mind games to her advantage.
So with a twinkle in her eyes, she called to him..Arnav..
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Arnav had been unable to sleep as well.
He was pruning his plants when he heard her soft, seductive voice drift into his head.
Arnav..
He tried to ignore the alluring call. Damn it, she couldn't play with his heart like this.
No, he vowed. He wouldn't talk to her..not a single word.
They were just boss and employee now. Their relationship, if they'd ever even had one, was over.
But her next words made him freeze, his eyes widened with disbelief.
Good morning, Arnav. I miss you so much. I know it's Sunday and I won't see you today, but I'll be thinking about you all day..all night long. Do you know what I'm doing today? Read my mind, baby..lingerie shopping..

Part VI: Lingerie
Khushi grinned slyly as she felt Arnav's feelings of shock hit her.
She quickly closed the link between them before he could respond.
She wanted to confuse him..arouse him..
Just as he'd done to her.
But then her eyes became troubled as she recalled his words outside her apartment building..
He'd said their relationship was over..that their mind games were over..
Would he ever talk back to her, she wondered, biting on her bottom lip.
Or had he decided to "let her go"?
Khushi shivered as she contemplated a world without his constant presence in her mind..without his grumpy, yet loveable personality..without his smirks..without his love and affection..
No, she told herself, she would find a way to get him back.
She had to.
He was now not only her best friend, but also the man she desperately loved.
The most important person in her life.
And the mind games would help her get him back.
But Khushi frowned as she recalled all that Arnav had done to her..
He'd seduced her mind, body, and soul with his teasing words, his dark eyes, his every touch and kiss.
How was she supposed to match up to him?
She didn't have his experience, his ease..
Khushi paced as she recalled her provocative words to him: Read my mind, baby..lingerie shopping..
She'd mostly said the words to throw him off, to make him respond, but she hadn't planned anything.
How did someone so innocent like her go about seducing THE Arnav Singh Raizada, she wondered sulkily?
As Khushi threw herself onto her flowery bedspread, a brilliant idea came to her..
Of course..she just had to just do what felt instinctively right..
Khushi quickly showered, dressed and hurried out.
She didn't want to waste a minute.
She needed Arnav in her life again.
She couldn't live without his passion..his love..
She longed to be in Arnav's arms again.
----------------------------------------------------------------
"Chote, your coffee is overflowing.." murmured Anjali, smilingly.
Arnav's eyes widened.
He quickly righted the coffee pot in his right hand.
"Everything okay?" asked Anjali, staring at him closely.
"Of course, Di," he replied quickly, taking a sip of steaming hot, black coffee.
He sensed his sister gazing at him though, so he quickly reached for the newspaper.
With a swish, he opened it, hiding his face behind the black and white pages.
Several minutes passed.
But Arnav hadn't read a single word.
Khushi's words kept echoing in his mind, taunting him.
He couldn't stop thinking about her, no matter what he tried.
I'll be thinking about you all day..all night long. Do you know what I'm doing today? Read my mind, baby..lingerie shopping..
An image of Khushi dressed in a scanty outfit crossed his mind. In it, she was dressed in a red slip, her eyes lined with kohl, her lips slightly partly. He could easily imagine her tossing her long black hair over her shoulder, her eyes twinkling as she reached for the thin straps of her slip, revealing silky skin beneath.
Arnav threw the paper down with a curse.
His sister and grandmother looked up with narrowed eyes as he rose from the dining table, heading up the stairs to his room.
"Chote!" called Nani with a frown, "You didn't finish your breakfast."
Arnav shook his head. "Not hungry, Nani," he said over his shoulder.
He walked out of view before the two could retort, slamming the door to his bedroom shut with a sigh of frustration.
The tantalizing image of Khushi pulling her strap lower and lower kept flashing before him.
His jaw clenched tightly as desire unfurled within him.
Damn it! thought Arnav with a growl. What was Khushi playing at?
He'd given her everything.
Friendship, love, care, passion, marriage, a future together.
And what had she done?
Rejected everything, torn his heart into shreds.
No, thought Arnav adamantly, he would stick to his vow. He wouldn't say a single word to her.
Their relationship was over.
She was just his employee now.
He felt nothing for her, he told himself, repeatedly.
But just then, as if she knew he was thinking of her, her shy voice entered his mind, whispering softly: Arnav..
And just like that, Arnav was helpless to the love that enveloped him.
Damn, but whatever he told his mind, his heart wouldn't allow him to break the connection between them.
His mouth clamped shut as he decided that he would not speak to her, but he could listen to her..
He was so curious to know what Ms. Innocent Gupta could possibly say..
------------------------------------------------------------------
Khushi's heart was pounding as she stepped inside the expensive lingerie boutique.
Yet, she forced herself to be calm..to be confident..
She had to seduce Arnav..had to make him respond..
She closed her eyes. An image of Arnav winking at her at the meeting just days ago crossed her mind, making her smile softly.
God, she loved him!
And the stubborn man was not even giving her a chance to explain!
He was so exasperating, thought Khushi with a sigh.
But she was no less too, she had to admit.
They were both such fools in love.
He was probably somewhere in that big, white mansion he lived in, convincing himself that she didn't love him.
And here she was, standing in the middle of a lingerie shop, trying to show him that she did love him, did need him.
"Do you need some help, Miss?" asked a small petite woman, an employee tag on her lapel.
Khushi opened her mouth to say no, but then she stopped.
Maybe, she could use some help on this game.
She was completely out of her comfort zone.
With a deep breath, she called Arnav in her mind.
Arnav..
He didn't respond, but she knew he was listening. She could sense his concentration on her.
She focused on him, trying not to blush.
Fine don't answer, baby, she told him, But I know you're listening..
Arnav shivered as her low voice hit him.
They both took deep breaths as the saleswoman asked again, "Miss?"
Khushi looked up startled. The saleswoman was waiting for her response she saw.
"Oh! Umm..actually.." she said hesitantly, her hands twisting, "I'm looking for lingerie..nothing too vulgur, but something revealing and feminine.."
The woman smiled, nodding. "Right over here. A new collection has just arrived yesterday. So you'll have many choices..Do you have a special occasion coming up..an anniversary or wedding?" asked the woman, leading Khushi to a far corner.
Khushi fidgeted.
What should I tell her Arnav? she asked seductively. That I'm here for you? But I don't think she would understand. I mean, who are you? A friend? A boss? A boyfriend? A lover?
Arnav's hands fisted as her words washed over him. He refused to answer, but he waited with bated breath for her response.
Khushi felt a slight twinge of sadness as he remained silent. In the past, he'd always replied to her questions, no matter how trivial or nonsensical.
She missed the banter between them so much..
"Nothing special," she said to the saleswoman, pretending to look at a collection of lacy lingerie, "I just want to surprise my husband."
Arnav stilled as her words entered his mind.
Husband?!
Who the hell was she buying lingerie for?
Jealousy engulfed him suddenly, as he imagined her with another man.
Khushi grinned as she felt his jealousy hit her.
Really, she thought, rolling her eyes, Arnav can be so irrational sometimes. So possessive, he forgets everything, even the most obvious.
Khushi smiled, Really, Arnav? You think I'm referring to someone else? 
Arnav's eyes were still turbulent as he recalled her words.
And then he couldn't stop himself.
He had to speak to her then.
What husband? he bit out.
Happiness surged through Khushi as she heard his steely hard voice..it felt like it had been forever since he'd talked to her..she'd missed him so much..
She smiled, trying to answer, but he quickly continued, I know it's definitely not me. Since you made your choice perfectly clear last night.
Khushi shook her head, Arnav, if you'd just listen once--
NO! he shouted. I'm sick of watching you run away from me. You said you didn't want to marry me Khushi. Now learn to live without me.
Arnav..if you would just--
NO! he said again, his voice cold, I'm done talking to you.
Fine, said Khushi with a snarl. God, he was so impossible sometimes!
I heard that!
She bit back a reply as the saleswoman turned toward her expectantly.
"Well, here's the new collection. Let me know if you need more help."
Khushi nodded.
Her head was throbbing as she picked up a magenta colored silk bra.
Really, Arnav was so exasperating sometimes!
I heard that too! he said stiffly.
Khushi fought the urge to shout at him. 
And then as she fingered the pink bra, she remembered her plan.
An impish smile crossed her face.
What do you think of this bra, baby?
What? he asked, surprised.
You heard me..here, I'll send you an image of it..
Khushi concentrated for a moment.
And just like the time they'd exchanged naughty dreams and fantasies, the image went with a flash to him.
Arnav staggered on the chaise lounge as the vivid image of silky looking bra hit him square in the face almost.
What the hell!
Khushi just smiled in response. I don't think it's right though. Hmm, what about this one?
Arnav eyes shot open as she sent him the image of a net black bra.
It's better no, love? Totally transparent..Much more sexy..she said, her eyes twinkling.
Khushi! he shouted. What game are you playing?
This is no game. I'm just lingerie shopping.
Well, keep it to yourself. I'm not interested.
Really? she said with a laugh, I feel something else entirely over here.
Arnav grimaced. It was hard to keep his desire for her under control.
I think I'll take the black one to try on. Do you think the cups are the right size? she asked him naughtily.
Arnav's eyes widened.
!!!
But Khushi didn't give him a moment to breathe.
Oh, look, baby they have some very hot lingerie here..with cutouts and lace..
Khushi analyzed the soft material in her hands with a smirk. But where's the rest of it? she wondered, rifling through the neatly folded stacks.
Baby, there should be a bottom half right? asked Khushi, sending him an image.
Arnav fought for control as an image of a red satin cutout hit him, sending his pulse racing.
He was about to shout at her, when he heard a third voice.
"Looking for something, Miss?" asked the saleswoman.
"Yes," said Khushi, pushing her hair out of her face. "Where's the bottom to this one?" she asked, holding up the red lingerie.
"Oh, sorry, Miss. That's the whole thing," she explained.
What! thought Khushi.
Her eyes rounded.
Arnav laughed in her mind. He couldn't help it.
Khushi's eyebrows furrowed at that. I wouldn't laugh, Mr. Raizada.
No? he asked softly, grinning still.
Khushi's arms crossed. Actually, now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. It's just one long piece of fabric..
Long? repeated Arnav with a smirk. One of my socks has more cloth to it than that thing.
Khushi was about to reply, but the saleswoman said just then: "It does come with this chiffon robe though."
Khushi accepted the waist-high matching net robe with wide eyes.What the! 
Arnav laughed again as she sent him an image of the barely there robe.
Really, what is the point of that thing? he said, It's completely see through.
Khushi bit her bottom lip to stop herself from agreeing.
"Why don't you try it on?" said the saleswoman. "The fitting rooms are right through there."
Khushi was about to shake her head, but Arnav said confidently in her mind just then: Don't waste your time, Khushi. Enough of these stupid games.
Khushi frowned and headed to the fitting rooms. In her hands was the red cut out and black bra.
It's not stupid..
Arnav sighed. They won't fit you anyways, he admitted, his voice low.
Khushi pushed back the curtain in an empty cubicle, her hands reaching for her clothes.
They're my size.
Yeah, but they won't fit, he insisted
How do you know that?
Arnav didn't reply. How could he tell her that he was beginning to know her body now?
His eyes darkened as he recalled their heated embrace in the coat room.
But the memory made him remember her rejection too.
Anger surged through him.
What the hell was he doing? He shouldn't be talking to her..
But Khushi said just then, So what do you think, baby?
Arnav's eyes widened as an image entered his mind, making him lose complete control.
Damn..
Khushi was blushing heatedly as she felt his desire hit her like waves, pounding against her bare skin.
She'd tried on the see-through black bra and had sent him an image of her tying it on, her back facing the mirror.
She'd been too shy to show him the front.
Well, Arnav? she asked again, her voice soft.
Arnav couldn't reply. His heart was pounding, his mouth felt dry.
Never had he imagined her to be so bold.
The image she'd sent had shown her from the waist up in the fitting room. Her back was bare as her nimble fingers fiddled, tying on the thin clasp of the black bra.
Her face had been partly hidden by her mass of long hair.
The outline of her net incased breasts was just visible.
How he longed to be there with her in that fitting room, his hands on her smooth skin..
Damn it, thought Arnav, running a hand through his hair wildly, What was she trying to do to him?
He tried to force the image out of his mind.
Stop it, Khushi!
What? she said innocently.
You know what!
Khushi smiled wickedly as she told him, I'm imagining you here with me, your fingers on my skin..your lips on mine..
!!! Arnav couldn't respond as she said those words.
Khushi was still grinning as she changed back into her sari.
She smiled wickedly as she told him, Baby, I'll talk to you later tonight. I have to go pay right now.
What! managed Arnav. You're going to buy those!
Yes, said Khushi brightly, Both of them..the red cut out and the black bra..
Why? asked Arnav. He didn't know why, but he had to know what was making her buy the highly revealing lingerie.
Khushi giggled in her mind. Isn't it obvious, darling? she said slowly,I'm buying them..for you..
Arnav's eyes widened, his heart pounded.
Khushi's eyes were shining as she felt his longing.
How much she loved him..
She smiled, saying before she closed their link, Until tonight, Arnav. Bye, darling.

Part VII: I Love You

Khushi was standing in front of the large, oblong mirror in her bedroom.
As she stared at her reflection, a frown crossed her perfect features.
She was dressed in the net black bra and matching bottoms.
Her eyes traveled up her bare legs, flared hips and slim waist critically.
She sighed as she came to her chest.
What the! Arnav had been right after all, she hated to admit.
The bra didn't fit her properly. It was about a size too small.
Khushi tried to tug up the black bra to cover her exposed flesh more, but it was no use. Her breasts pushed up, spilling over the top.
Khushi recalled Arnav's words from just hours ago: They won't fit you anyways, he'd said after she'd sent him images of the black bra and red cut out.
Khushi fell back on her bed with a sigh.
If only she'd noticed in the lingerie shop, she thought, biting her bottom lip. But, no, she'd been too busy trying to seduce Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada.
A blush spread across her skin as she recalled her bold words to him: I'm imagining you here with me, your fingers on my skin..your lips  on mine..
Her chest heaved as she imagined him.
Imagined him with her in her bedroom, his masculine body covering hers.
Khushi shook her head, trying to stop the fantasies.
But she couldn't seem to get their naughty conversations out of her head.
Goodness, thought Khushi, closing her eyes, she'd been so daring with him.
Never had she imagined she would be able to act this way with him.
She blushed hotly at the prospect of meeting him face to face in the office tomorrow, of her eyes locking with his knowing gaze.
How would she ever face him, she wondered, slightly mortified?
Khushi wished Arnav would just give her one chance to explain..all she'd wanted was his love..
And really, how difficult was it for that stubborn man to say "I love you"?
Three small words..that meant the world to her..
Everything she was doing was just to get him back.
Every naughty word, every audacious confession..
And she'd only acted so boldy because she knew him so well..because she wanted him to respond..wanted him to finally declare his love for her..
They'd spent years close to one another and yet, miles apart.
She couldn't handle another moment away from him.
Her body cried out to be with him.
She needed to be his.
With a smile, Khush lay back on the flowery bedspread, crossing her arms under her head.
It was almost time to arouse Arnav once more..
Her heart beat fast as she planned out what she'd say to him. Her cheeks reddened.
But she would say it, she vowed, and soon..before she lost her nerve completely..
--------------------------------------------------------------
Arnav was jogging relentlessly on his treadmill, his pace hard and driven.
He'd been trying to forget Khushi.
But images of her kept taunting him.
If it wasn't the lingerie, it was her words..
Darling?!
Why the hell had she called him darling, he wondered, confused. Really, it would take him an eternity to figure out Khushi Kumari Gupta. And even then, she'd remain half a mystery.
A puzzling package of beauty, innocence, and brightness..with a luscious mouth that begged to be kissed, huge, innocent eyes that promised the world, and a body that made his heart race..
What was going on in that beautiful head of hers, he wondered, frowning?
What had she been thinking?
To kiss him so passionately one moment in the coatroom, reject him the next, and then send him live updates of her lingerie shopping the very next day!
He snarled, running faster. His feet pounded.
As he finally allowed himself to rest, he turned off the exercise machine and headed for the shower.
The cold water felt wonderful against his burning skin.
Arnav arched his neck back as the water flowed down his restless body. He tried to focus on the meeting tomorrow..he had so much left to do..
A dozen messages to reply to. Several reports to read. A presentation to review. But Khushi's image refused to leave him.
He kept seeing her bare back.. The black bra being clipped on.. The side-view of her barely covered breasts..
She was driving him crazy.
Arnav dried his hair with a towel roughly. As he fell onto his bed with a sigh of frustration escaping him, he had to admit that the very innocent Khushi Kumari Gupta had somehow managed to master him..ASR..
Had seduced him, mind, body, and soul.
Still, he vowed, he would get her back for the torment he'd gone through all day long..
He just had to be patient for tomorrow..
But just then, when he was least expecting it, her soft voice entered his head,
Darling..she whispered slowly.
He could sense her smiling.
I am not your darling, said Arnav, Go away Khushi, I'm sick of the mind games. And I'm trying to sleep.
Khushi frowned, but stuck to her plan.
Really darling, she said again, Is that any way to talk? Goodness, Arnav, you really need to work on the romance..
Arnav ignored her, saying in his head in a singsong voice, I'm not listening to you. I'm not listening to you. I'm not listening to you.
Khushi sighed, exasperated. He was being so difficult!
Arnav paused mid-song, I heard that!
Well, good, replied Khushi heatedly. Why are you not even giving me a chance to explain, Arnav?
Why? You're asking me why? he barked. 
Khushi cringed at his tone.
The memory of his proposal and her refusal flashed through both of their minds.
Arnav smirked coldly in her mind, I guess it was no big deal for you.
Arnav..please, I just wanted--
Enough, Khushi! said Arnav. It hurt when he thought about her refusal.
Arnav, murmured Khushi regretfully as she felt his deep pain, I'm sorry.
There's no reason for you to be sorry, said Arnav hollowly, Like I said, it was just an unimportant party for you. Just a forgettable kiss..
What?! shouted Khushi, shocked.
You heard me.
Khushi frowned, her heart aching. You know that's not the truth, baby. I haven't been able to stop thinking about those kisses..she admitted in a tender voice..
Arnav fought to keep his cool. He wanted her to admit her love for him. If only she said those three small words..
Just three small words. But they meant the world to him.
He frowned as he remembered all he'd done for her..how damn patient he'd been..all those mind games he'd played..and what had it gotten him?
Just rejection.
So he pushed Khushi's buttons, deliberately.
He knew exactly what would set her off, what would make her confess..
Don't lie, Khushi, he retorted coldly, I know those kisses meant nothing much to you.
Outrage flowed through Khushi at his words.
They meant the world to me, do you understand, Mr. ASR? she shouted. It was my first kiss..our first kiss..
Arnav swallowed. But you still said no, didn't you? You walked out of that coat room without a backward glance.
Arnav, began Khushi tenderly, Please just--
No! said Arnav. That's it, I'm not talking to you anymore. And stop the damn mind games. I know what you're trying to do.
Fine, have it your way, said Khushi, shortly, Good night Arnav.
Arnav turned onto his stomach, trying to ignore her tempting voice.
Damn it, she hadn't said "I love you," to him, he thought with a frustrated growl, covering his head with a pillow.
He was about to sever the connection between them, when she whispered heatedly: I'll be thinking of you all night long, baby..While I lay here in my apartment all alone..just wearing that black transparent bra..did you know it came with a matching thong?
Arnav's eyes snapped open, but Khushi cut the connection just then, smiling wickedly.
"Damn it!" shouted Arnav out loud, his hands fisting.
He knew he wouldn't get much sleep that night..
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Khushi was still smiling as she walked up to the second floor of AR Designs. Aman greeted her at the top of the stairs.
"Morning!" she said brightly, "And how is the Laad Governor today?"
But Aman just frowned at her, "Khushi, what did you do? I've never seen boss so mad at anyone before."
Khushi frowned. "What happened?"
Aman was about to reply, but his phone rang just then. "Wait a minute, okay?" he told her, turning away.
But Khushi couldn't wait.
She had to know.
She walked to his glass office quickly.
A group of skimpily dressed women were standing outside Arnav's door.
Khushi's eyes narrowed as she saw them surrounding her wooden desk.
"What's going on?" she asked, coming closer.
The group of five turned to her, smiling coldly. Lavanya was one of them.
"Look, guys, here she is!" said Lavanya.
Khushi ignored her, looking with wide eyes at her desk.
One of Lavanya's pseudo-clones was sitting in her chair.
"What the--" began Khushi.
The unknown woman laughed, "It seems I've been promoted, and you've been demoted, Gupta."
"What?" said Khushi, shocked.
Lavanya nodded, "It's true, Gupta. ASR made the announcement minutes ago. Reena is his new personal assistant, and you've been sent to the Bermuda Triangle.."
Khushi's eyes widened.
It couldn't be..
The Bermuda Triangle..it was the employees' code word for the basement office where all of the old company files were kept to be entered and stored. Khushi had been there only once, and she still hadn't forgotten the dingy, gray walls..the dust that had covered every surface..
No one who'd been sent there had ever made it back to the main office.
How could Arnav do this to her!
It had to be a mistake.
"Get out of my chair!" she said loudly to the laughing Reena.
The women all giggled.
Khushi fought the urge to scream.
"What the hell is going on out here?" asked a familiar, masculine voice.
Khushi's eyes snapped up at Arnav.
She frowned as she noted how hot he looked. Even this early in the morning. The suit he was wearing fit him perfectly, molding to his flesh.
Jealousy flared in Khushi as she noticed all the women stare at Arnav as if he was their breakfast.
It set her teeth on edge.
She glared at Arnav, but the stubborn man wasn't even looking at her! Khushi's anger grew by ten-fold.
"Look, ASR," said Lavanya, "Gupta doesn't believe she's been sent to the Bermud--I mean the basement file office."
Arnav still refused to meet Khushi's searching gaze.
Reena nodded eagerly, "Yeah, she doesn't believe that I'm your new personal secretary."
"Lavanya is right," announced Arnav coldly, finally meeting Khushi's furious gaze, "But, really, Ms. Gupta, please behave appropriately. This is an office."
Khushi's mouth dropped open. Her eyes flashed.
I can't believe you're telling me to behave. You, who were all "Sexy sari.." in the conference room on Friday.
Arnav didn't even blink, ignoring her.
Only a slight smirk hinted at his amusement.
"Come along, Reena, " he said pointedly, all the while gazing at Khushi, "We have a meeting to go to. I expect a good summary from you."
Khushi's replacement nodded, hurrying to catch up.
Khushi watched it all with wide eyes.
As Arnav was about to cross her, she thrust her body in front of him, blocking him.
They both knocked into each other, their bodies colliding.
Heat sizzled between them, almost tangible.
"What are you doing, Ms. Gupta?" said Arnav icily, staring down at her, his eyes dark.
Khushi rose to her full height, crossing her arms with a frown.
"It's not fair to just replace me, Mr. ASR," she said feistily. "At least, pick the better assistant," she continued, frowning at Reena.
The gaggle of girls gasped.
Arnav met Khushi's hard gaze with a frosty expression.
"Fine," he bit out.
Lavanya pushed herself forward hurriedly, grasping Arnav's arm. "What are you saying, ASR?"
Arnav nodded, his eyes still on Khushi. "Both Reena and Ms. Gupta will take notes at the meeting now. The one who does a better job, will be my personal secretary."
-----------------------------------------------
Khushi had a sense of deja vu as she entered the conference room on the sixth floor.
Had it only been two days since she'd sat here, blushing as Arnav whispered seductive words in her mind?
This time, she sat right next to Arnav, glaring at Reena on his other side.
Aman looked at her sadly, giving her a thumbs up from across the table.
The meeting started minutes later.
Khushi struggled to keep up.
Her hand was becoming numb.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lavanya passing notes to Reena.
Khushi's eyes widened, Look Arnav! They're cheating.
Arnav barely glanced to his right, his eyes on the presentation screen.
So? he finally murmured.
So! repeated Khushi, outraged, So, it's unfair. Reena should be disqualified from your stupid contest.
Arnav barely repressed a grin. All's fair in love and war, he replied slowly.
Khushi's mouth dropped open.
She glared at him as she took more notes.
Arnav shifted slightly in his seat to the left so that he could better see Khushi.
Her upper body was hunched over the table as she scrambled with her pile of papers.
A naughty glint came to Arnav's eyes as he recalled all she'd said last night.
It was time for payback.
She couldn't torture him all day and all night long and then expect him to not retaliate.
So smirking slightly, Arnav slipped his left foot out of his designer shoe.
He reached out toward the unsuspecting Khushi.
Part VIII: Passions Collide
Khushi was trying to jot down something about "10 year projections", when she felt something against her ankle.
She froze in her seat, her eyes widening.
But there it was again..a bold touch that scorched her through her chiffon sari..
She turned toward Arnav, startled.
He ignored her completely, his eyes on the screen ahead.
Beneath the oak conference table though, his foot traveled up and down her lower leg, his touch firm.
Khushi shuddered as she felt him stroke her repeatedly.
It reminded her of their heated dance at the office party..
Heat enveloped Khushi.
She tried to pull herself away, but she was helpless to this passion..
Her body ached for him.
The microphone made a loud noise just then.
The speaker looked slightly embarrassed as he continued.
Khushi shook her head, trying to focus, trying to ignore Arnav's constant stroking..
She moved away from Arnav's touch though when she realized she'd completely missed the past five minutes of the meeting.
She gazed down at her notes worriedly.
But Arnav's hand reached out just then, stroking her exposed waist from the slit in her sari.
His fingers were firm and urgent against her.
Khushi's eyes widened as she felt him touch her skin, leaving streaks of heat in his wake.
She swallowed as she felt his hand travel up, massaging her bare back.
His fingers brushed over the clasp of her bra beneath her mass of long hair.
Khushi shivered, glancing at him finally.
Arnav was watching her closely, his eyes slightly arrogant as he felt her response to him.
Staring into her eyes, he rubbed her back once again, his touch firmer.
Khushi's eyes widened. She looked at him shocked, but he only smirked back at her.
No one around them seemed to sense the passion brewing between them.
The darkness of the conference hall enveloped everything.
Stop it! she finally said, shifting away.
But the warning was half-hearted, and they both knew it.
Why? asked Arnav with a slight raise of his eyebrow, I thought this is what you wanted, Khushi. You bought the lingerie for me, right?
A blush covered Khushi as she remembered her bold words in the lingerie shop..in her bedroom last night..
Focus, Khushi, focus, she told herself, trying to ignore everything..she had a challenge to win..
But it seemed impossible..Arnav's hand still stroked her waist, his foot slipped under her sari border, touching skin now.
Khushi frowned at him, but just then he moved his hand and foot away, leaning back in his leather chair.
Khushi turned slightly in his direction, surprised.
She felt a wave of heat envelop her as she met his glittery, dark eyes.
But then she noticed the satisfied smirk that played across his lips.
Her pen tightened in her grasp.
Her anger sparked.
Who did he think he was? To demote her and then minutes later, touch her so!
Suddenly, a brilliant idea came to her..
Two could play this game..
Her hand reached out, deliberately stroking his suit-covered thigh.
Arnav tensed as she touched him, his breath stilling.
His eyes flew to her, shocked.
Khushi just smirked at him, her touch firm through his pants.
As she squeezed his flesh, she watched his eyes darken with a deep thrill.
Stop it! said Arnav, his jaw clenched, his eyes hot.
No! replied Khushi, her hand winding under his coat, massaging his rigid back, All's fair in love and war, right baby?
He shuddered against her as she repeated his own words back to him.
Khushi smiled wickedly as she continued to stroke him.
Guess, what I'm wearing under this sari, Arnav? she whispered heatedly.
He froze for a moment at her soft murmur, his eyes shifting to her shocked.
That's right, said Khushi with a too bright smile, The black bra..
Arnav's eyes darkened.
But Khushi ignored the warning there, forcing herself to let go of her shyness.
Her eyes glittered as she said naughtily, The black net bra..you remember it right, Mr. Raizada?
Arnav's jaw tightened in answer.
I know you do, baby, continued Khushi with a pleased gleam in her eyes, And do you know what I'm imagining right now..
What? he bit out.
Khushi gulped, pausing..She hadn't expected him to respond..
Khushi? he whispered in that sexy voice of his, What are you imagining?
Us, answered Khushi, meeting his gaze, Locked in an passionate embrace, my sari unwound, your hand touching the net--
She couldn't continue, an unwelcome blush spread over her.
Her body quivered as she saw the sudden tension in his..
Arnav could barely breathe as he imagined the same scenario..
His hand reached out, trapping her hand against his rigid thigh.
Khushi froze, turning toward him sharply.
As their eyes met, an electricity seemed to sizzle in the conference room..a burning awareness.
Khushi's chest heaved as she met his hot gaze head-first.
Suddenly, he shot up.
Everyone turned to look at him.
The speaker froze at the podium, his mouth half open.
Arnav ignored it all.
"The meeting is canceled. It'll continue tomorrow," he announced firmly.
Murmurs of confusion greeted his words. But Arnav barely noticed.
As everyone nodded and stood to leave, Arnav reached down toward Khushi, his breath hot against her ear.
"Ms. Gupta, a moment please.." he ordered stiffly.
But in his mind he added, Now, princess..
Arnav..she began reluctantly, her pulse racing.
I said NOW, his tone hard and commanding.
Khushi gulped as she saw the tension in him..the heat in his stare..
But no one else seemed to notice. The other employees stood near the doorway, observing the interaction with poorly concealed interest.
Khushi had no choice but to follow Arnav out a connecting door to an empty hallway beyond.
The gaggle of girls laughed as they watched.
"ASR is so going to fire Gupta now," remarked Lavanya, smiling.
-------------------------------------------------------
The hallway outside was narrow and empty. So cramped that there was barely enough room for two people to walk side by side.
It was part of the old wing at AR Designs, and most of the offices had been converted years ago to storage rooms.
Goodness, there was no one here, thought Khushi, her heart racing.
They were completely alone..
Arnav was relentless, pulling her further down.
His hand was hard around her slim wrist.
Khushi couldn't help but notice his strength and underlying passion as Arnav finally stopped, wrenching her forward.
"What the hell are you doing, Khushi?" he barked out loud.
Annoyance and anger spiraled through her at his words.
Khushi chose to reply through their link. I could ask you the same thing, ASR! You're the one who started it!
Arnav ran a hand through his hair in anger. It doesn't matter. After today, you'll be sent to the basement office and we won't see each other.
Khushi's heart broke.
But then her eyes widened as a disturbing thought came to her.
You already decided to pick Reena, didn't you? she asked, outraged,That's why you were trying to distract me in the meeting! So I couldn't win!
Arnav didn't reply, staring at her hard with his hands in his pockets.
How could you do that, Arnav! she shouted, pushing his chest angrily.
He glowered at her, clasping her wrists in his hands, pushing her roughly against the wall.
His body covered hers.
They both tried to ignore the heat pooling between them..the fire waiting to ignite..
So that's what you think about me? That everything I do is a game! his eyes darkened to midnight black with anger. What happened in the conference room was real, damn it!
With a curse, he flung her away from him.
But Khushi wouldn't let go.
She reached for his shoulder, pushing him against the wall.
His eyes sizzled as her hands trapped him on either side.
I'm not finished yet, said Khushi, trying not to be intimidated by him.What about that Lavanya clone? How could you replace me?
Arnav's eyes glinted as he pushed her back against the opposite wall, his face inches from hers..
Correction, Ms. Gupta, he said with glittery, angry eyes, I haven't replaced you..yet..
Khushi's eyes narrowed. So this is a game to you? Making me compete against that bimbo? You must be really enjoying yourself watching me suffer! Do you have any idea what I'm going through? My hand is still aching and my--
But Arnav grabbed her right hand just then.
Khushi's thoughts left her as she watched with wide eyes as he brought her hand up, his eyes locked with hers..
Her chest heaved as he kissed her palm hotly.
Khushi's body quaked as she felt his moist, burning mouth.
Better, princess? he asked softly, massaging her hand soothingly.
Khushi could barely breathe..barely respond..
They'd talked about such brazen things..had such bold conversations and now a simple touch had left her completely undone..
She needed him..loved him so much..
Their eyes locked as passion brew in swirls around them..as a hot awareness sparked between them..
Arnav couldn't handle another second away from her.
He needed her..loved her..
With a pent-up groan, Arnav reached for her, his mouth crashing down on hers.
Khushi met him half way, her arms wrapping around his neck, her hands winding tightly into his hair.
They kissed as if they were starving for the other..as if they'd waited forever to be this close..
Arnav could feel himself losing control.
He pulled away slightly, staring down at Khushi's reddened, slightly swollen lips.
Khushi reached up for him and he didn't deny her, his lips and tongue finding hers once again..
Several hot, hungry kisses followed.
Arnav pulled Khushi tightly against him, his heart soaring as she tightened her grip on him, cuddling closer.
He'd missed this so much..
He needed her in his life..couldn't live a moment without her..
Nothing else mattered. None of it..their stupid fights, his anger, her refusal..
Arnav's hand moved to the back of Khushi's blouse, untying the flimsy threads.
He wanted her fantasy to become reality..his hands on her finally..
But then through the haze of passion, another thought came to him, leaving him shaking..this was Khushi in his arms..the girl he'd grown up with, the woman he'd fallen in love with..he couldn't do this to her in the middle of a deserted hallway..
No matter what bold words she'd said, he knew she was a completely innocent, a girl who believed in tradition..marriage..
Arnav froze against her, moving his lips away with a curse.
He glanced at her with dark, turbulent eyes.
Khushi stood limply against the wall, her eyes closed, her chest heaving, her lips still parted.
It took all of Arnav's strength to step away.
"Arnav.." murmured Khushi slowly, her eyes blinking open.
But Arnav forced himself to be ASR..cold and calculated..
I can't deal with these games anymore, he said to her, What do you feel for me, princess? I need to know.
Khushi's eye widened, her mouth opened and closed and opened again as she struggled for the right words..
Arnav's jaw tightened at her silence.
With a final glare, he spun away, walking down the narrow hallway.
Khushi's heart ached as she watched him go.
God..what were they doing to each other?
This is was Arnav..the best friend she'd grown up with, the man she loved, she reminded herself. And he was only acting like this because she'd hurt him so badly..
Please, don't go, baby.
Khushi's soft words stopped Arnav in his tracks.
Let me go, Khushi. You'll learn to live without me.
No, you know that'll never happen, she said, crying, hurrying toward him. I need you in my life.
He closed his eyes, still not facing her.
You just need time, he bit out.
Khushi shook her head adamantlyHer hand reached out, grabbing his suit sleeve, No, Arnav, please listen to me. I can't live without you.
He turned toward her then, his eyes glittering.
Why? he asked fiercely, his hands wrapping tightly around her shoulders. Why do you need me?
He pushed her against the wall, his body flush against hers.
Khushi stilled as she looked up at him, her eyes slighty teary.
Why, Khushi? Why! he repeated, shaking her slightly, WHY?!
And she couldn't control herself any longer.
Khushi reached across, pushing against his chest with her small fists.
Because..I LOVE YOU, ARNAV!!! I love you!!
She leaned wearily against his chest, her tears smearing his suit.
But Arnav didn't notice.
He couldn't believe it..
She loved him?
His heart soared for a moment but then he remembered the sting of her rejection. He thrust her away from him, trying to ignore her tears. His eyes were hard as he looked at her.
I don't believe you, he said shortly.
He started to walk away, but she refused to let him go, pulling at his arm.
Khushi's heart broke at his cold words. 
No, Arnav. I do love you. I love you so much.
Arnav stopped, turning toward her with steely eyes.
Prove it, he snapped.
Khushi moved back, stunned. What?
You heard me. Prove it.
How? asked Khushi, trying to read his dark eyes.
He stared at her hard.
Marry me, Khushi.
What? she asked, her eyes widening.
He grabbed her again, pulling her against his rigid body.
His eyes glittered. You heard me, princess. Prove you love me, elope with me..this very minute.
Khushi looked at him shocked. Arnav..no..
He glowered at her, pushing her away with a snarl.
-----------------------------------------------------
Khushi hurried to catch up with him.
Arnav..she called out.
But he'd already cut the connection between them.
Only silence met her urgent call.
Arnav walked back into the conference room without a backward glance at her.
Why did he keep doing this to her, wondered Khushi with a frown?
Elope with him?!
How could she..she had a family..God what would Amma say? And Payal would be so disappointed..
And Khushi didn't think she would even be able to meet her father's eyes..
And of course there was Buaji too, thought Khushi, quaking.
But had Arnav considered her feelings even once?
No, he'd jumped straight to the conclusion that she didn't care for him..thought Khushi, shaking her head.
And had the stubborn man even realized that he hadn't admitted his love?
Of course not, but he expected her to..
Khushi's jaw clenched.
It was amazing how this one man brought out so many emotions in her: overwhelming love, heady passion, and red blazes of anger..
She was sick of him testing her..
-------------------------------------------------------
Arnav's jaw was tight as he flipped through Khushi and Reena's conference summaries in his glass office.
Lavanya and her gang stood with bated breath nearby.
Khushi walked into the conference room just then.
Arnav sensed her before he saw her.
He tried not to look at her, but his damn heart had other ideas.
His eyes rose to her.
His mouth thinned as he noticed her reddened lips, her glittery eyes..
Damn it, but she was irresistible when she was angry.
But then his eyes hardened.
What reason did she have to be angry?
She wasn't the one who'd proposed twice..and had been royally rejected TWICE!
Arnav forced himself to turn back to the summaries in his hand.
Khushi's report was slightly unfinished, but done well.
Reena's was a cluttered mess. The handwriting clearly showed at least five different people had worked on it.
Like he'd known from the beginning, it was no contest.
Khushi was the clear winner.
"I've reviewed the reports," he told the group in any icy, formal tone, "And my secretary will be Ms. Gupta."
The group of five looked at him shocked, gasping in surprise.
"What ASR?" asked Lavanya with wide eyes, "You can't be serious.."
But even as Arnav nodded, Khushi spoke up just then.
"Thanks for the job, Mr. ASR," she said with sharp eyes, "But I've decided that the basement office is a better option."
Everyone's jaws dropped.
But Khushi only looked at Arnav, noting his shock and then his blazing anger.
"Did you hear that, ASR?" said Lavanya with a glowing smirk, "Gupta is choosing to go the Bermuda Tri--I mean the basement office."
Arnav didn't answer her, glaring at Khushi instead with a hard glint in his eyes. "Are you sure, Ms. Gupta?"
Khushi nodded, meeting his dark gaze with a frown. "I'm completely sure, Mr. ASR."
And then, as she walked away, feeling his eyes on her, she prayed she was making the right decision..
Maybe some distance would force Arnav to be sensible..maybe then the stubborn man would finally admit that he loved her too..
Part IX: Bermuda Triangle

Khushi's footsteps hesitated at the entrance to the basement office.
Was she making the right choice, she wondered again?
She still remembered how shocked everyone had been when she'd refused to be Arnav's secretary.
Lavanya's eyes had bugged out, Reena's eyebrows had almost reached her hairline..and Arnav..
Khushi stopped herself as the memory brought Arnav's vibrant image to her mind again, making her heart ache.
She frowned, crossing her hands across her chest.
She'd show that Raizada.
Goodness, she'd given him everything. Had even admitted her love..
But that hadn't been enough for ASR, he needed her to prove her love..
Khushi's eyes darkened at that.
She'd show him, she told herself again..
The Bermuda Triangle couldn't be as bad as it was made out to be.
Yes, thought Khushi, glancing up at the unmarked door, it couldn't possibly be that bad.
And whatever it was, decided Khushi with determination flickering in her eyes, she'd make herself love it..
Khushi took a deep breath, and pushed the door open, stepping inside..
Yes, this would be her new favorite place..
------------------------------------------------
It was the worst place ever, decided Khushi thirty minutes later.
The Bermuda Triangle was a maze of cluttered shelves and file cabinets.
A thick layer of dust covered almost every surface, making Khushi sneeze every few minutes.
She wiped her reddened nose, trying to turn on the computer.
But it just hummed loudly in reply.
The screen looked older than her, lamented Khushi with a sigh, leaning back.
An image of Arnav's smirking face crossed her mind, and Khushi shook her head, refusing to call out to him..
Even though, inside she wanted to cry out: Arnav, come and get me. I hate this place. Please, love.
A tear came to her eye as she remembered all that had passed between them. She'd admitted her love, but he hadn't replied. And he'd asked her to marry him again, and she'd hadn't been able to say yes.
Khushi wiped the tear away furiously.
She wouldn't think about him, wouldn't speak to him.
If only there was someone else down here, thought Khushi, glancing at the empty cubicles.
But there was no other employee around, noticed Khushi with a sigh.
She was just munching on her tenth jalebi, when a wheezy voice called out: "And who are you?"
An old, white haired man came forward, glancing at her confused.
Khushi beamed up at him, rising so quickly he backed away.
"Hello, Mr..Rao," she said slowly reading his name card, "I'm Khushi Kumari Gupta, I was just transferred here."
Mr. Rao shook her hand weakly, staring at her amazed.
When he didn't say anything, Khushi broke into a rapid speech, "I noticed no one else is in this department, unless they're hiding somewhere. And I couldn't turn on the computer to check the list either. But you can tell me, right? After all, you seem to work here..at least I hope you work here too..because I would hate to be all alone..and the silence here is unbearable. How do you work here?" she asked, amazed.
Mr. Rao gazed at her with his eyes popping out.
If he'd said all that so fast, he'd have needed his inhaler.
He focused on her last question.
He coughed gruffly. "I've worked in the Bermuda Triangle for years now," he said proudly, "Since ASR bought the company."
Khushi's mouth tightened at that name.
"Oh, so you must hate him, right?" she said matter-of-factly, "After all, he's kept you down here for so long, all alone."
Mr. Rao shook his head, "ASR is like a son to me. He likes me best that's why he chose to make me head of this department."
Khushi fidgeted, smiling uncomfortably. Goodness, Arnav had played his mind games on every person it seemed.
"And I like this floor the best," continued Mr. Rao, yawning, "The other departments are too crowded."
Khushi blinked. Forget the other departments, the nearest bathroom or janitor closet probably was more crowded than this place.
"Who else works here, then?" she managed to ask.
The old man laughed, "Just me right now. We did have a new addition last month, but he quit in two days. Let's see how long you last, Ms. Gupta. Good Luck!"
Khushi watched Mr. Rao go to his office several doors down.
So..maybe the Bermuda Triangle wasn't the most crowded or neatest department, but still, she thought resolutely, she'd make it work.
By the end of the day, Mr. Rao would be her good friend.
And they'd have wonderful conversations..
--------------------------------------------
Mr. Rao snored like a hibernating bear, decided Khushi two hour later.
She'd stuffed two cotton balls into each ear, and she could still hear him.
Forget about having conversations, the old manager was always sleeping, never even coming out of his office.
No wonder no one lasted in the Bermuda Triangle, thought Khushi with a frown, they'd been driven away by the bear most likely.
Mystery solved!
She huffed as she burrowed her face in her arms, trying to block out the reverberating snores.
She'd never been so miserable in her life.
This was the worst day ever, she decided.
And then, as the clock finally struck 5 PM, Khushi leaped out of her creaky metal chair, rushing toward the exit.
Thank God, the day was over.
With a frown, she wondered how the Laad Governor's day had passed..
------------------------------------------------
Arnav entered Raizada Mansion with a frown, banging open the front door.
"Chote?" called Anjali as he hurried past, taking the stair two at a time to his room.
But Arnav couldn't answer.
He threw his coat off with a curse, loosening the tie around his neck.
With a sigh, he threw himself onto his bed, trying to relax.
It had been the worst day in his life.
How had it gone so wrong, he wondered, staring up at the ceiling.
It had started off so well..he'd challenged Khushi, and then they'd had that hot encounter in the conference room..and later in the hallway.
Heat surged through him as he recalled their passionate kisses.
His heart soared as he remembered her saying "I love you, Arnav!"
But his grin vanished as he remembered her rejecting his proposal..for the second time!
He didn't understand it..
And then she'd chosen to leave him and go to the Bermuda Triangle.
And he'd been left to deal with Reena, who as it turned out couldn't do a single thing right, except maybe file her nails to perfection.
And even when he'd got a minute to himself in his office, he hadn't been able to relax.
It felt weird not to have Khushi's voice in his head.
So boring, so monotonous.
He had no idea how people lived liked that, but he couldn't do it.
He needed Khushi like he needed air.
But Ms. Gupta apparently did not share the same sentiment. She'd taken her stuff and walked off to the basement office without a single glance at him.
How the hell had everything gone so wrong, he wondered again?
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in," said Arnav, sitting up.
Anjali limped in, gazing at him worriedly.
"Chote, what's going on?" she asked, sitting at his side.
"Nothing Di," he replied, refusing to meet her gaze.
But Anjali was adamant.
"Swear on me and say that again," she said to him.
Arnav's lips tightened and standing up with a restless sigh, he said, "Fine, Di. You want to know what's wrong, fine I'll tell you.."
He quickly told her all that had happened..leaving out a few key details of course..
"Chote," said Anjali, wonderstruck, "You've fallen in love with your pen pal, Khushi?"
Arnav hesitated. He'd told his sister years ago about Khushi, but had said that they were just pen pals who exchanged emails. He couldn't possibly tell her about the mental link, she'd probably think he was crazy..
"Yeah..I guess," he said gruffly, "And can you believe it, she said no twice to me, Di!"
Anajli looked at him amazed, and then hit him with a pillow.
"What the--" said Arnav, taken aback.
But Anjali just laughed. "Really, Chote? You wonder why she said no?"
Arnav nodded, still confused.
His sister shook her head, "Look all that you've done to the poor girl. You didn't tell her you were her boss, just arranged for her to come to Delhi. Can you imagine what she must have felt when she found out?"
Arnav's eyes became thoughtful as he recalled Khushi's anger at the construction site.
"She was a little upset," he finally said.
Anjali rolled her eyes, "And even after that, she stayed in your life, continued working for you. Even admitted that she loved you."
"But, Di," said Arnav, heatedly, "I've done a lot for her too..You have no idea what she's put me through. And I asked her to marry me..twice!"
Anjali sighed, "Let me get this straight..she said I love you and you answered with prove it, marry me?"
Arnav nodded hesitantly.
"Umm..it sounds worse when you say it like that, Di. I had reason to ask. And I was thinking about Khushi too..she's very traditional Di, just like you. I thought she'd want marriage."
"So..to repeat she said I love you and you said marry me..did you say I love you to her?
Arnav's eyebrows furrowed.
He must have said it, right?
It was so obvious anyway..Khushi must know how he felt.
"I may have forgotten.." he admitted sheepishly.
"You forgot!" repeated Anjali, her eyes wide.
Arnav flushed, "I was just so focused on her saying I love you that I didn't realize it."
Anjali sighed, "Chote, you need to let her know."
"Of course, Di. I'll tell her first thing tomorrow morning."
Anjali shook her head, "Don't just blurt it out. Make sure you make it special..the poor girl deserves it. You need to charm her Chote."
As Anjali left the room, Arnav sat brooding.
Charm Khushi..hmm it seemed the mind games were still on, he thought with a grin.
He lay back, folding his hands behind his head..he couldn't wait till tomorrow..
---------------------------------------------------
Khushi arrived five minutes late the next morning to AR Designs.
Aman greeted her by the door.
"Morning..how is--" began Khushi, but then stopped.
She wasn't his secretary any longer, she had no reason to know howhe was doing.
Aman though just smiled understandingly, "Boss is in a great mood today actually, smiling and joking."
Khushi's eyes narrowed.
How could Arnav be so happy when she was so miserable? Did he not care at all for her?
That Raizada must be laughing watching her suffer in the Bermuda Triangle, she decided, frowning.
"Anyway, Khushi," continued Aman, glancing at his watch, "I really need to talk to you about something. But I have a meeting in 10 minutes. Can we meet over lunch in the cafeteria?"
Khushi nodded.
Any time away from the hibernating bear would be a blessing.
It felt like it had been forever since she'd talked to another person.
As Aman walked up the stairs to the glass office, Khushi sighed and headed for the basement.
------------------------------------------
From his glass office, Arnav watched Aman and Khushi separate with a frown.
What had she been talking about with that stupid boy, he wondered?
He shook his head, he had to focus..
He had a mission today..
To confess his love to a certain very stubborn Ms. Gupta.
He knew she wouldn't accept his love or apology easily..
------------------------------------------------
The first rose arrived at 9:10 am.
Khushi looked confused as the delivery boy handed it to her.
A note was attached to the stem.
Khushi unfolded it quickly, her eyes narrowing as she tried to read the chicken-scratch.
Really, Arnav had the worst handwriting she'd ever seen.
As she twisted the note this way and that, and brought it inches from her face, she finally read aloud, "I'm sorry..princess. Please talk to me."
Her eyes widened.
Arnav Singh Raizada was apologizing.
Who would have thought?
But as Khushi looked at the beautiful red rose, she couldn't help but remember his anger, his demand for proof.
No, she told herself resolutely, she wouldn't talk to him, not till he himself came to her.
With a determined look, she set the rose to the side, trying to focus on her dim computer screen.
But her eyes drifted every few minutes to the rose..
What the! He wasn't even in her mind, and yet he was..in every thought..in every wish..
It would be along day, thought Khushi, dusting off another old file and entering it into the ancient computer.
--------------------------------------------
The second rose came slightly before noon.
Khushi unwound the note with nimble fingers.
The note was brief: Just talk to me once, princess. Lunch today, cafeteria, okay.

Khushi frowned down at it.

He hadn't even asked her to meet him for lunch, just ordered her.
After all, who would refuse the Laad Governor's command?
Well, she would, decided Khushi.
And anyways, she already had plans.
ASR would just have to deal it with, she thought, her eyes glittering.
----------------------------------------------------------
Arnav hurried down the stairs to the cafeteria.
Lavanya was at his heels, asking in a bewildered voice, "Are you sure, ASR? I can order us something from that new Chinese restaurant. Why would you want to eat in the employee cafeteria?"
She said "employee cafeteria" as if the food there was muck from the roadside.
Arnav shook his head exasperated, "Because I do, now leave it Lavanya."
The cafeteria was already packed as he walked in, ignoring Lavanya's calls behind him.
His eyes skimmed over the crowd hurriedly.
Where was Khushi?
He'd expected her to be sitting somewhere nearby, waiting for him.
And then as he looked at the room again, his eyes narrowed.
There she was..
Laughing..smiling..without him..
She was laughing at something that idiot Aman was saying.
The two seemed like a perfect pair as they chatted away in a corner table.
"Oh, wow," said Lavanya, "Who would have thought Gupta would get a boyfriend."
Arnav fumed, his hands fisting at his side.
But Lavanya didn't notice; her eyes were glued on Khushi and Aman.
"Lavanya, you have that meeting to go to, remember? With Akash?" said Arnav coldly, his jaw clenched, his eyes still on Khushi.
"Oh, damn, you're right. I'll see you later, ASR," replied Lavanya, leaving with a last curious look at the couple eating in the corner.
Arnav stared at the pair as well, his eyes darkening.
What the hell! She was supposed to have lunch with him.
With a glint in his eyes, he stomped toward them.
----------------------------------------------
Khushi's eyes widened as she saw Arnav walking toward them.
He looked hot in the dark maroon suit.
She tried to ignore the automatic pull she felt as her eyes met his.
She quickly glanced away, smiling at something Aman was saying.
"Hello, Aman," said ASR in an icy tone, his eyes glaring down at Khushi.
She refused to look at him.
"Boss!" said Aman, surprised, "What are you doing here?"
Arnav frowned at him.
"I thought we could have lunch together. I hope I'm not interrupting something.." said Arnav, his eyes glittering.
"Not at all," said Aman, "We were just discussing Khushi's new position."
"Oh," said Arnav, sitting next to Aman, "How are you liking the basement, Ms. Gupta?"
Khushi refused to meet his penetrating gaze from across the table.
"Fine," she mumbled, staring down at her hands.
"What?" interrupted Aman, "But you just said--and the bear--"
Khushi looked at Aman warningly, shaking her head at him.
Aman flushed, glancing away
Arnav observed the exchange with a twinge in his heart. He'd thought it was only him and Khushi who had those silent talks..
His jaw clenched.
"Aman," he said a moment later, his eyes still on the slightly red Khushi, "You have a meeting to go to, don't you?"
Aman glanced up, surprised, "I thought Lavanya was handling that one."
Arnav shook his head, "No, the plan was changed. You're in charge of it now."
"Sorry, boss. Sorry, Khushi," said Aman rising quickly, "I'll see you both later."
Arnav nor Khushi replied.
His eyes were hard as they traced over her face, noting the anger in her gaze with satisfaction.
Khushi frowned at him, and unable to remain silent any longer, she tersely said, "I know you did that purposely."
"What?" he asked, feigning innocence and taking a sip from her water bottle.
Khushi's lips thinned as she watched him.
"You made Aman leave," she continued, "It was all your plan."
"So what?" he said loudly, "It's my company. I can do whatever the hell I want."
Khushi glanced about nervously around them.
Several people were looking at them.
Be quiet, she said through their link, People are looking at us.
Arnav shivered as he heard her voice in his mind again..it had been so long..
But he schooled his expression, his eyes darkening as he told her, I don't give a damn..
Khushi huffed, No, you don't care about anything or anyone but yourself, do you? You just think you can walk in here and make everything as you like it. Well, it doesn't work that way, Raizada.
Raizada? repeated Arnav, his lips thinning, So now you're not even going to say ASR?
Khushi refused to answer, It doesn't matter. Point is, you can't go around controlling everything, demanding proof from people--
As she realized what she'd said, Khushi glanced hastily away.
The memory of their heated encounter in the hallway flashed through their connected minds..
Arnav shifted guiltily in his seat.
He took a deep breath, Khushi, about that..I wanted to explain--
There's nothing to explain, Raizada, interrupted Khushi, her eyes flashing, You made yourself perfectly clear. I have to prove my love first. But, you can't go around controlling my life till then. I can have lunch with whoever I want. And what do you think, ASR, that if you won't love me, no one else will?  Someone could enter my life any time Arnav. Would you be able to handle that? Seeing me with someone else? Someone else kissing me? Touching me?
Arnav's eyes narrowed with jealousy.
Khushi gulped as she met his angry gaze.
She hoped her words had sounded not as hollow to him as they had seemed to her ears. They were all lies, of course she would never let anyone else touch her, but she relished seeing the anger in him..maybe this would finally push him to admit what he felt..
Arnav's eyes sizzled her with heat.
With a curse, he stood up, his hand wrapping around her slim wrist tightly.
Khushi tried to hide his hand on her as he yanked her up, dragging her out of the employee cafeteria..
------------------------------------------------------
People looked on curiously as he led her up the stairs toward the second floor.

A blush tinged Khushi's high cheekbones as she felt everyone's eyes on them.

She tugged her hand, but it was useless. His hand was holding her possessively in a vice-like grip.
What the! she said, What are you doing, Raizada? Everyone is staring at us. LET GO!
Arnav ignored her protests, jealousy and anger blazing through him.
He pushed open the glass doors to his office, wrenching her forward.
Khushi's eyes glittered with anger as she looked at his rigid form, his hands fisted in his pockets.
Arnav clicked a button and a thick curtain automatically closed around them, blocking the glass walls.
There, he said frostily, No one can see us now.
Khushi crossed her arms across herself, What do you think you're doing Raizada? I just told you, didn't I, you need to stop controlling everything. Who do you think you are? You can't just--
But her words stopped midsentence, her eyes widened as Arnav pulled her toward him, his lips crashing down on her open mouth.
He kissed her hungrily, and with a moan, Khushi gave herself to him, her arms wrapping tightly around his body.
He pushed himself closer to her, their bodies pressing together.
Anger vanished as overwhelming passion burst forth.
Khushi sighed with pleasure as he lifted her up slightly, pushing her back against the wall, his hands tight around her hips.
She kissed him back just as feverishly, her hands urgently tugging his head closer.
Arnav suddenly pulled slightly back, his lips a few millimeters from hers.
Khushi's eyes blinked open as she felt his mouth leave hers.
They were standing still poised against the wall, their bodies entwined, their hands still clutching the other.
Khushi tried to be strong as she felt Arnav's breath fan her lips, his body hard against hers.
Anger sprung anew as she realized what he'd done: made her forget everything by just touching her..
She glared at him, opening her mouth to shout, but his actions stopped her in her tracks.
His hands rose up, cupping her face.
His eyes were tender and soft as he gazed at her.
"I love you, Khushi..I love you so much, princess," he said against her lips.
Khushi's eyes widened in shock. And then, pure joy and love unfurled within her.
A beaming smile spread across her face as she looked up at him surprised.
He smiled back at her and then leaning just slightly forward, began kissing her lips.
She met him half-way.
This time as passion swelled again, there was a certain reverence in every touch.
With every kiss he dropped on her lips, Arnav said I love you through their mental link.
Tears escaped Khushi's eyes, and with a sigh, Arnav slid up along her body, kissing them away.

I love you too, Arnav, said Khushi smiling as they finally stopped for a breath.

For a moment, they just stared at each other in amazement, their lips curved into smiles, their eyes shining brightly..
Arnav reached up, cupping her face gently in his hands again.
I have something to ask you Khushi, he whispered.
Khushi's heart raced..she knew what he'd ask..and this time she'd say yes. She wanted to be his wife so badly.
Yes, darling? she asked, brushing his wavy hair out of his face.
Arnav smirked at her, asking softly, Will you be my girlfriend, princess?
Khushi's eyes rounded.
Part X: Carpet Confessions
His girlfriend?!
Khushi took a step back, staring up at him in astonishment.
His eyes twinkled as he met her gaze.
What? she finally managed.
Arnav smirked again, I said..Will you be my girlfriend, princess?
Khushi's eyes widened even more if possible.
And Arnav could no longer control himself.
He stepped back, laughing.
His eyes were shining as he looked at her confused face.
What is so funny, Arnav? asked Khushi, frowning.
Arnav was still laughing as he came toward and kissed her on the mouth firmly.
You had the funniest expression on your face just now, he mumbled against her lips.
He leaned slightly back, staring at her amazed.
God, Khushi, he said, shaking his head, I was just joking..
Khushi crossed her arms in front of her, looking at him with not so amused eyes.
How funny, ASR, she said crossly, stepping away.
But his hand latched onto her forearm, pulling her around in a spin.
She fought lightly in his hold.
Arnav just smirked down at her, leaning closer, Hmm, yeah, I agree, it was funny.
Khushi frowned at him. That's not what I meant.
She tried to stay in control, but it was difficult when she was in his arms and he stared at her so..with such powerful love and passion in his eyes..
She shivered as he dropped kisses along her cheekbones, across her mouth, and down her neck
I guess..he replied against her throat, But what's a guy to do when he's been rejected..twice!
Khushi flushed, her lips curving.
Umm..her eyes closed as his tongue lapped her sensitive skin, Maybe the guy should have thought for a second why the girl said no in the first place..
Arnav smiled against her.
He kissed the side of her neck once more, his teeth nipping.
She moaned above him, clutching his hair with both hands.
He placed another kiss on the same spot and then leaned up so he could see her face.
It pleased him to see her skin tinged with a rosy hue, her eyes slightly hazy, her lips parted.
He couldn't resist her.
His thumb reached out, brushing over her reddened bottom lip.
They both shuddered as overwhelming heat blazed through both of them.
Every encounter they'd had passed through their mind link:
The hug in her apartment, her dressed in a fluffy robe, him bare chested..
The naughty fantasies they'd shared..
The scandalous dance at the office party..
Their first kiss in the coat room..
The sexy conversations..
The lingerie shopping..
The heated meeting in the conference room..
The hallway interlude..
The mind games..
Khushi was the first one to reach out. Her hands traveled longingly up his tense torso, her palms massaging the muscles beneath..
Arnav's eyes closed but he made himself back slightly away.
Khushi frowned as she watched him, her eyebrow rising in question.
But he only smiled softly in return.
I don't want to mess up anything else.. Let me say this, princess, he whispered, staring at her intently.
Khushi nodded hesitantly as she watched his smile vanish and a seriousness return.
Arnav..she said when he continued to remain silent, her hand tugging on his suit coat.
He took a deep breath, cupping her face in his palms, I've loved you for so long, Khushi..
Me too, love, she replied, her hands wrapping around him, Since I was old enough to know what love was, it's only been you, Arnav.
He nodded, It's been the same for me, princess. For a long time, I told myself that you were too young, that you wouldn't love me if you knew about my ASR side..
Khushi smiled understandingly, But look what happened, I fell head over heels in love with you. Nanav, ASR, or Arnav, it doesn't matter, I love all the sides of you..
He smiled, kissing her, And I love you, princess.  I always have.  You know, Khushi, we are so lucky. The bond we share is so special. No one can understand it. I don't understand it myself sometimes. But I'm so grateful that it exists..that I met you that day at the roadside..
Khushi nodded, I've thanked God so many times for that day..for that accident..
Arnav frowned, his eyes narrowing, Don't you ever say that again! I can't bear the thought of you hurt, princess.
Khushi smiled, leaning up to kiss his stubbled jaw.
Shh, darling..I'm okay, it was years ago..
He nodded, but Khushi noticed his grip was tighter around her now.
With a deep breath, he continued, Our friendship grew from that day, and I don't know when it transformed into love. I just know that for years now, you've been the most important person in my life. The first person I think about when I wake up, my last thought before I go to sleep each night. My best friend, the woman I love..
Khushi snuggled into his arms with contentment. I understand, love. You know, when I was younger, I had these fantasies--Don't look at me like that Arnav! she scolded as he looked at her amused, Not like those we shared in the conference room. Back then, they were such innocent dreams..you pushing me on the swings, you with me at my school dances, sitting beside me watching a romantic movie..You were always in my thoughts, always in my dreams..
Arnav smiled gently, Khushi, it has taken us over a decade to reach this point..to finally be together. I don't want to waste a minute.
What do you mean? asked Khushi, gazing up at him confused.
Arnav took her hand in his and kneeled on one knee on the carpeted floor.
Meaning, princess, we know each other better than any two people can hope to even if they dated for years..I don't want you to be my girlfriend, Khushi. I need you to be my wife.
Khushi's heart raced as she watched him pull out a shining, diamond ring. Tears came to her eyes as she stared down at him.
I love you, Khushi..Will you marry me, princess? asked Arnav, his eyes shining brightly as well.
Khushi chest heaved. For a moment she couldn't speak, could barely think. And then as she realized it was all real and not some fantasy she'd concocted, she nodded, Yes, Arnav, I love you so much, love! Yes, yes!
She leaned down beside him, throwing her arms around him.
Arnav hadn't been expecting it, and he was knocked backwards as she launched herself into his arms.
They fell onto his office carpet with a thud.
For a moment, they just looked at each other, amused.
Khushi was laying on top of Arnav, her body plastered to his.
They both laughed as they looked around.
Khushi tightened her arms around him, and Arnav's eyes closed with happiness as he cradled her against him, his face buried against her neck.
Khushi brushed the tears from her eyes as she leaned up on his chest.
She grinned down naughtily at him, Well.. she prompted, wiggling her empty left hand impishly.
Arnav smiled, kissing her beaming mouth and then, slipped the ring onto her finger.
It sparkled in the curtained glass cabin.
His lips were gentle as he kissed her hand.
I can't believe it, said Khushi amazed, I've been dreaming about this since I was a little girl. Oh, God, Arnav, pinch me.
What? he asked, grinning.
You heard me, she replied, her head pillowed on his chest, Pinch me. I want to make sure I'm not dreaming. I can't believe it, we're engaged..we're getting married..And--Ow!
She stared at him with a frown, her fingers going to her waist.
But his hand beat her to it.
His finger rubbed soothingly along the spot he'd just pinched.
You asked for it, he whispered, his eyes twinkling.
Khushi rolled her eyes and opened her mouth to say a sassy reply.
But she couldn't.
Her eyes closed, her chest heaved as she felt his hand travel down her body, his touch firm.
Arnav..she warned.
He smiled, leaning up to kiss her, It's real, princess. It's finally happening.
Khushi smiled back as she reached down to kiss him.
God, Arnav. We're getting married! And then her eyes widened,Getting married! Goodness, I have to tell my family and you have to tell your family. And then they have to meet. We have so much to plan..
She started to rise up, but Arnav pulled her back on top of him with a skilled hand.
Shh, he whispered, brushing her hair out of her face, We'll deal with them later, okay. But for now, can't we just focus on us..
Khushi smiled naughtily. Focus on us? she said innocently, But that's what I'm doing, Arnav Singh Raizada.
He sighed, cupping her face, kissing her softly.
That's what I meant, he said against her lips.
So? said Khushi..Fine, you got your kiss. Now, let me up..the lunch break is almost over. Anyone can come knocking on your door.
Who cares? he replied lazily, his arms stretching out on the carpet,And anyway, Khushi that was just one kiss..
Khushi raised an eyebrow, And your point is?
Arnav's eyes darkened as he looked at her, I want more..
How many more? asked Khushi slowly, her heart beating fast.
Hmm, said Arnav naughtily, Enough for the rest of our lives. But for now, I'll settle for ten.
TEN! said Khushi, her eyes rounding.
Arnav nodded.
Arnav, the office..she admonished, shaking her head. But her eyes were shining brightly as she said, Fine, let's just agree on three kisses..
He shook his head like a stubborn child, Ten!
No, three! insisted Khushi.
Fine, nine! countered Arnav, smiling
Four! she replied.
Eight!
Five, and only five, Arnav.
Seven, princess!
Six!
Deal! shouted Arnav, his arms reaching for her and rolling her over.
His body quickly covered hers, his lips descended on hers eagerly.
Khushi met each hungry kiss with fervor, her hands fisting in his hair.
I love you, Arnav, she whispered.
Arnav shifted slightly back from her reddened lips, And I love you, Khushi..
And then he leaned down again, finding her mouth and tongue..
-------------------------------------------------
A half an hour and twenty kisses later, Arnav was helping Khushi arrange her hair back in order.
He was sitting on top of his neat desk, his hands careful as he tried to comb through her hair.
Khushi stood with her back to him, her hair open and disheveled behind her.
Ouch, that hurts, she said to him as he pulled at her hair.
Sorry, muttered Arnav, I don't know how, but you have carpet fuzz all over your hair..
Khushi rolled her eyes, You don't know how! Who was it rolling me on the carpet minutes ago, demanding my hair be opened?
Arnav laughed from behind. Well, I wasn't thinking about things so mundane as carpet fuzz at that moment, princess..and anyways, it wasn't as if you were complaining. From what I recall, you said, Open it, baby!
Khushi flushed at that reminder.
She began to argue, but Arnav purposely leaned forward just then, kissing her exposed nape.
Khushi stilled between his legs, her eyes closing.
What had she been about to say? she wondered, confused.
Arnav grinned behind her, pulling her long mass of hair into one hand.
You can't keep doing that, you know, said Khushi annoyed, her hand settling over her rapidly beating heart..Goodness, the man was always giving her heart palpitations..
Doing what? he whispered innocently, brushing her hair with his fingers.
Khushi turned her head back to look at him.
Arnav winked at her.
She couldn't keep the smile from her face so she swung back around.
You know, touch me and make me forget everything. It won't always work, Mr. ASR.
We will see, Ms. Gupta.
Soon-to-be Mrs. Raizada, she corrected.
He nodded behind her, his hands braiding her hair expertly.
There, all done, he said a minute later.
Khushi turned around, her hand winding around the braid.
It was plaited perfectly.
Khushi looked at her hair in amazement, How do you know how to braid so well?
He shrugged, Well, I remember my mom braiding my sister's hair when we were kids..the memory has stayed with me. You're the first woman whose hair I've braided though..
Love swelled in Khushi's heart for him.
She turned around, looping her arms around his neck.
I. LoveYou. she said, punctuating each word with a kiss to his lips.
He folded his hand around her waist, pulling her closer.
There was a knock on the door just then.
Khushi froze, but refused to let go of him.
"Who is it?" called Arnav, his eyes still on Khushi.
"ASR, it's Lavanya and Reena, we have the file ready. Open the door."
Khushi frowned at those names.
She naughtily slipped closer to Arnav, leaning forward to kiss his clenched jaw and down his neck.
Khushi..he said warningly.
What, baby? she muttered, leaning up to kiss his cheek.
His gaze was heated as their eyes met.
And just like that, the passion was back.
Arnav closed his eyes, trying to control himself.
But it was impossible.
He, Arnav Singh Raizada, the expert in seduction, had been mastered by one very innocent Khushi Kumari Gupta.
She controlled his mind, body, heart, and soul.
He was hers completely.
"I'm busy with Ms. Gupta, come back later," he said formally.
Khushi gasped, moving away.
He grinned at her wickedly in reply, pulling her onto his lap.
What were you doing just now, princess? I liked it..
Khushi smiled in reply, but Lavanya outside said just then, "Gupta! When did she come?"
Lavanya leaned forward, trying to hear through the door, but she heard only silence from within.
What was going on inside, she wondered?
Reena smiled, pulling Lavanya away, "Let's just leave them. ASR is probably just firing Gupta. You missed their fight in the cafeteria during lunch, the whole office is talking about it."
As their steps retreated, Khushi cuddled into Arnav's lap.
This is so inappropriate. We're supposed to be working. But I can't help it, I can't seem to leave, she said, laughing softly.
Arnav smiled, kissing her lips, And I can't keep my hands off of you. It's okay, princess, our love is a thousand times more important than work.
Still, said Khushi, I have to get back to the Bermuda Triangle.
His grip on her tightened, his eyes blazed down on her angrily. The hell you're going back there. I won't allow it!
Khushi frowned up at him, See, you're ordering me again.
Arnav looked startled at that.
Sorry, he replied sheepishly, It's just a habit.
Khushi sighed, Arnav..you can't be both my boss and fiance. You need to pick one.
Husband, he amended, holding her closer, I chose that.
Then stop ordering me like I'm your employee.
Fine, said Arnav with a sigh, But I can't stand the thought of you down there. Please, princess, don't go there. It has a horrible reputation for a reason. You can go back to being my personal assistant till the wedding, and then whatever you want after that. But, please, don't go down there.
Khushi smiled, Shh, it wasn't that bad.
Arnav looked at her doubtfully.
Okay, maybe it was, corrected Khushi, cringing, Let me just finish the day there today. Tomorrow, I'll be back as your secretary, okay? And Reena can go back to the first level.
He still didn't look satisfied. But how am I supposed to get through today knowing you're down there..so far..
Khushi kissed his cheek in reply, her hand on his chin. It's just for four more hours. And anyway, our minds are always connected. The distance won't matter.
It won't be the same, insisted Arnav, I need to see your face, hear your laugh..
I understand baby, but it would be really awkward for me to just come in the middle of the workday.
Arnav cursed under his breath, standing up.
Khushi threw her arms around him from behind.
How about dinner tonight..to make up for the lost time? she asked shyly.
He turned around quickly, surprised.
Really? That's a great idea. Where do you want to go?
His excitement was infectious.
Khushi shook her head, giggling, There's no need to go anywhere. You just show up at my apartment building at 7 pm, okay?
Arnav nodded, his eyes twinkling, It's a date, princess.
Khushi smiled, leaning forward to kiss him one last time.
And now, she said, stepping out of his arms, I really need to leave.
She was about to reach for the door knob, when he slipped past her, blocking the door with his body..
Arnav, please, I need to go, said Khushi, blushing slightly.
I know, he replied, But God, Khushi, look at you!
What? asked Khushi, her hand rising to her face self-consciously.
Arnav shook his head, his eyes twinkling, An hour ago, you walked into my office about ready to rip my head off..you were so angry. And now, look.. you're face is glowing, your eyes are all lit up.. and you look like you've been making out for the past hour.
Khushi blushed hotly, her hand brushing over her slightly swollen lips.
It's all your fault, Raizada, she said angrily, but her eyes were shining with happiness.
She couldn't make it go away.
He laughed, There, that's slightly better. See you tonight, princess.
They kissed one more time and then she finally opened the door..
------------------------------------------------------
Lavanya and her gang glanced up quickly as Khushi walked out of Arnav's office, closing the door behind her.
Khushi frowned at them, hurrying past. Her hands were folded behind her, the diamond ring hidden from view.
"So, have you been fired forever, Gupta?" asked Reena smugly.
Khushi paused, a small smile across her lips, "Actually, I've been promoted. And you've been demoted, Reena. Enjoy Bermuda from tomorrow."
Everyone's jaw dropped.
"You're such a liar, Gupta," said Lavanya loudly, "God, how stupid are you? ASR has already sent you there and--"
"Actually, Lavanya," cut in Arnav from the doorway, "Ms. Gupta is absolutely correct."
Khushi's heart skipped a beat as her eyes ran over his familiar form.
Their eyes met for a heartstopping moment, but Arnav quickly glanced away, glaring at Lavanya and her friends.
"And don't ever, talk to her that way again. Do you understand?" he said in a steely voice.
The group frowned, but nodded.
Khushi looked at Arnav a moment more and then turned away,Thanks, love. But I could have handled it.
I know, he replied in her mind, But I couldn't stand another second with them insulting you. How dare they!
Khushi smiled as she made her way down the stairs.
It felt so good to have him on her side again! To know that he was hers forever this time!
---------------------------------------------------
Mr. Rao was snoring as she neared the Bermuda Triangle.
Khushi though barely noticed as she practically skipped inside.
Nothing could take away from the happiness that swelled in her heart.
Her lips were curved into a wide smile as she lounged back on the creaky, metal chair as if it was a plush throne.
She curled her hands behind her head and lifted her feet onto the desktop, sighing..
She'd never known it was possible to be this happy..
Arnav loved her..
HE LOVED HER!
She giggled, her eyes shining dreamily.
She lost herself in him..
Thinking of their engagement..
Their wedding..
Their wedding night..
Their honeymoon..
Her first pregnancy..
Their second child..
Their third..
Their fourth..
Their fifth..
Growing old with Arnav..
Feeding their grandkids jalebis..
A particularly loud snore shook her from the daydream.
Khushi's eyes widened, she looked around guiltly.
But only empty cubicles and dusty file cabinets stared back at her.
Khushi laughed..maybe the Bermuda Triangle had its advantages after all..
Another thirty minutes passed, but Khushi was still unable to focus.
She stared at the pile of old, yellowed files with a frown.
Really, how was she supposed to concentrate when his thoughts refused to leave her.
It was all Arnav's fault, she decided with a grin.
And then, as if he'd sensed her thinking of him, he said in her mind softly:
Khushi..
Khushi jolted up in her chair, brushing her hair out of her face,Arnav..what is it, love?
He smirked, Nothing. Just wanted to ask if you're busy right now?
Khushi hesitated, looking down at the file on her desk.
She'd doodled 'Mr. and Mrs. Raizada' everywhere..
She quickly flipped over the paper as if he could see.
Not really, she finally managed.
Good, he replied, Come to the storage room then.
The what? she asked, her eyebrows furrowing.
Arnav laughed, The storage room.
The one upstairs?
No, the one in the Bermuda Triangle, by you.
Oh, said Khushi, rising, Sure..do you need a file or something?
Hmm..yeah, exactly, said Arnav, Let me know when you're there.
Khushi nodded as she walked inside the storage room just two doors down.
It was pitch black inside.
She reached for the lights.
Shelves of files surrounded her.
However, it was surprisingly cleaner than the rest of the Bermuda Triangle, she noticed right away, and the files looked years rather than centuries old.
This must be where all the recent files must be stored, she realized, reading a few labels.
I'm here, Arnav..What file do you need?
There was no answer.
Khushi frowned. Arnav? she called again.
There was no reply again, but there was a knock at the window in the far corner.
Khushi spun toward it, her eyes widening.
Arnav waved to her through the glass, grinning.
Khushi ran toward the window, opening it.
She watched amazed as he climbed inside and wrapped his arms around her.
What the! You scared me! she said against his chest, What are you doing here?
He laughed. I have a meeting to go to now. I won't be back at the office today, he explained, I couldn't resist meeting you before I left though.
She smiled, holding him closer.
But why are you sneaking into your own company, Arnav?
He sighed, I thought the office would go completely crazy if I walked down here. We already gave them enough gossip with that lunch today.
Khushi laughed, leaning back, I see your point, Raizada..I hope Lavanya and her gang haven't followed you..
She stepped toward the window, peering out, but her foot slipped on an old file on the floor.
She cried out, her eyes closing as felt herself falling.
Arnav's eyes widened as he reached for her, Khushi!
His arms closed around her, he couldn't stop the fall.
They fell on the ground, both gasping.
You okay, princess? asked Arnav worriedly, cupping her face.
She nodded, reaching up to kiss his stubbled kiss, I'm fine.
For a moment, they just stared at each other, smiling stupidly.
I'll miss you, said Khushi softly, running her hand through his hair.
And I'll miss you, Khushi, he said, kissing her lips softly.
Khushi smiled against his lips, kissing him back.
Before things got too out of hand, she pushed against him, getting up,You'll get late, Arnav. I'll see you tonight.
He nodded, Yeah, can't wait for dinner. I'm hungry already.
Khushi blushed at the look he gave her, pushing him toward the open window.
Wait, he said as he climbed outside, What's that noise?
Khushi's eyebrows furrowed as she paused to listen.
And then she smiled, laughing.
Mr. Rao..the resident bear, she told him.
Arnav grinned, So that's what you and Aman were talking about at lunch..
Khushi nodded.
As she shut the window between them, he smiled, I love you.
I love you, she replied, as the connection between them closed.
--------------------------------------------
Five minutes later, Khushi had finally gotten back to work.
But the delivery boy arrived just then.
Khushi smiled, holding out her hand for the expected rose.
But he gave her a small package instead.
Khushi thanked him as he left, her fingers quickly unwrapping the box.
Inside was an ipod and a pair of headphones.
A small note was tucked inside.
Khushi smiled as she opened it.
A familiar chicken-scratch scrawl read, To keep you safe from the bear..Arnav..
Part X: Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Dares

Khushi stared at her kitchen open-mouthed, her eyes widening.
It looked like a storm had swept through it.
Flour dusted the countertops, pots and pans stood in a tumultuous, leaning pile in the sink, and somehow bits of the salad had careened off the chopping block and flown in every direction.
Khushi frowned, brushing a stray strand of hair back.
Flour smeared across her forehead.
The only good thing was the dining table, all set carefully with red roses everywhere.
An array of dishes was set on it, from samosas to rice to vegetables to salad to chocolate cake to of course, jalebis! The poor table seemed to groan from the sheer weight on its wooden surface.
Maybe she'd gone just slightly overboard, thought Khushi.
The phone rang just then.
Khushi hurried toward it, almost slipping on some chocolate that had fallen on the floor.
She caught herself, her hand curling around the phone.
Was it him? she wondered with a slight blush.
But it was only 5:30 PM, she noticed, and Arnav wasn't coming till 7.
Maybe he couldn't stay away..
Her heart hummed at that thought.
She smiled softy, her eyes lowered as she said, "Hello, love."
The voice on the other side paused, "Emm..Khushi dear, it's Mrs. Gill from down the hall."
Khushi turned bright tomato red, cringing slightly.
"Oh! Of course..how are you Mrs. Gill?"
"Fine," said the neighbor, "I didn't mean to disturb you. It's just that it's my 42nd anniversary today and I am trying to make Mr. Gill his favorite three-layered strawberry and vanilla cake, but I spilled most of the sugar just now.."
"Wow, congratulations!" said Khushi, beaming, "And of course, I have lots of extra sugar. Should I come now and give it to you?"
"No need for that, Khushi," said Mrs. Gill, "I'm going to be taking Taffy for a walk in a few minutes, I'll pick it up then. Thank you for understanding, dear."
Khushi smiled, "Of course, Mrs. Gill. You and Mr. Gill are the best neighbors anyone could ask for. I'll see you and Taffy in a few minutes then. Happy anniversary again!"
Khushi started to hang up, but Mrs. Gill continued softly, "Thank you. The years do fly by fast, especially if it is true love. So Khushi, once you find your love, make sure you never let him go..and it seems, dear, you've found him."
Khushi blushed. An image of Arnav carefully braiding her hair passed before her eyes. "Yes, Mrs. Gill, I have..I can't imagine my life without him. And don't worry, even an army couldn't keep me away. He is stuck with me."
Mrs. Gill laughed, "He's a very lucky man, then. Take care, Khushi. Taffy and I will be by in a few minutes."
Khushi smiled as she clicked off the phone.
Hmm..where was Arnav, she wondered?
Should she call out to him?
But he was probably working, she realized, biting her bottom lip.
And anyways, noted Khushi, glancing down at herself, it was probably a good thing he wasn't here yet.
She was a complete mess.
The light pink suit was stained with tomato sauce, butter, and God knows what else. Even the apron tied around her waist hadn't seemed to help at all.
Her hair was just as bad, a wild mane behind her.
And was that Arnav's favorite curry on her forearm?
Khushi sighed as she washed up.
She opened her hair, trying to brush through the knots.
And then giving up, she started braiding it instead.
But it was hard and her back was cramping from all of the cooking.
Where was that Raizada when you needed him? thought Khushi, laughing.
She had to settle for two pigtails instead, tied off with some ribbon.
It would have to do..thought Khushi with a frown.
She glanced up at the clock.
5:45 PM
Perfect! She had just enough time to clean up, shower, dress, and look beautiful for him..
She wanted him to be blown away tonight.
Khushi hurriedly set the food into the oven to stay warm.
And then she skidded down the hallway toward the bedroom..what should she wear, she wondered? Definitely a sari, but which one? Pink, red, or yellow?
The doorbell rang just then. Khushi ran back to the kitchen, grabbing the sugar.
"Coming Mrs. Gill!" she called, "Coming Taffy waffy..you cute, little baby.."
In a flash, she opened the door, smiling as she looked down to greet the puppy.
Her body stilled.
Her smile froze.
Her eyes rounded as they traveled up dark trousers, up across a white-shirt and black vest covered chiseled chest, toward twinkling, chocolaty brown eyes.
"Hey, beautiful!" said Arnav from the doorway.
His eyes raked her up and down hungrily.
Khushi gulped and then her eyes widened even more if possible.
Oh no!
She glanced down at herself, cringingly.
If only there was some fairy godmother who could transform her into a princess..
But sadly, there wasn't one around.
Her pink, stained suit and apron were still the same. She must look terrible, realized Khushi, horrified.
She couldn't speak.
Arnav? What are you doing here? she mumbled, her eyes downcast.
Our dinner date, remember? said Arnav smiling, And I'm here for you of course.
Khushi cringed, taking a step back.
I'm not dressed..I look awful, she said in a quiet voice, her eyes still lowered.
She heard Arnav sigh, and then the next thing she knew, he was pushing her against the wall, his lips firm against hers.
Khushi's eyes snapped open, locking with his.
But he just gazed at her lovingly, his eyes shining as she responded to his kiss.
Khushi arched into him, clutching him just as tightly as he was.
His tongue glided along the seam of her mouth, demanding entrance.
She gave it to him at once, sighing softly as the kiss deepened.
Arnav moaned, his arms pinning her to the wall as his mouth ravaged her, hot and possessive.
He felt her loop her arms around his neck, arching into him so her breasts were pressing against his rigid chest.
Damn it, he had to slow this down..otherwise they would end up in bed for sure.
An image of a smiling Khushi, dressed in an ornate bridal lehenga sitting atop a bed covered in roses, flashed before his eyes.
That thought shook him.
He wanted her have that wedding night just as she'd always imagined.
He couldn't ruin that moment for her.
So Arnav kissed her one more time and then moved away.
Khushi frowned up at him, rising onto her toes.
She kissed the corner of his mouth, moving closer.
Princess, please..muttered Arnav, even as he leaned in to kiss her.
Khushi smiled against his lips, her mouth moving down his neck with open kisses.
Please, what? she asked, her eyes lit up.
Arnav swallowed as he felt her tongue against his burning hot skin.
Umm..Khushi..
Hmm, muttered Khushi, her hands moving across his tense torso, I'm listening, love..
Arnav fought for control.
Khushi, stop..
Khushi frowned, leaning up to kiss his clenched jawline. I don't want to..she admitted shyly.
Arnav closed his eyes at her soft, innocent words.
She didn't know what she was asking for..
Baby, he said gently, cupping her face, We're waiting till our wedding night, remember?
Khushi's cheeks turned a rosy shady of pink, That should be my line I think..
Arnav laughed, hugging her close.
He sighed happily.
It felt so good to have her in his arms again.
It felt like it had been forever since they'd confessed everything on his office carpet..since they'd last kissed in the storage room..
He leaned down, kissing the top of her head.
What was that you were saying before, princess? Something about taffy, waffy, cute little baby?
Khushi moaned, hiding her face against him.

Taffy is my neighbor's dog..Mrs. Gill was supposed to come by to get some sugar..she explained.

Arnav smiled, And you thought I was Taffy at the door?
Khushi nodded against him, leaning up to meet his twinkling eyes.
Arnav grinned down at her naughtily, brushing the flour off her face,So let me get this straight..you have all these names for a dog, and me, the man you love, your soon to be husband, is always ASR or Raizada? And it's never said in that loving tone, you usually say it when you're all angry.
Khushi flushed, her arms looping around his neck. No, she said, I say ASR and Raizada with love.
Arnav raised an eyebrow.
Khushi smiled, leaning up to kiss him.
My ASR..Raizada, she said with each kiss, I love you, baby..
His eyes lit up, I love you too, Khushi. And I love the pigtails too, very cute!
Khushi cringed as he pulled at her braids, God, she'd forgotten all about that.
But then he pushed her toward the hallway, Go get dressed, beautiful.
But I thought we were having dinner here? said Khushi, Arnav, you have no idea how long it took me to make everything. If you've changed your mind..Her eyes flashed.
Arnav laughed, holding up his hands, Woah, my tigress! I just meant we could go down for a walk before dinner. It's still pretty early.
Khushi blushed, nodding.
Sorry, she said.
He smiled, sweeping her hair out of her face. No sorry necessary. Now, go!
He pushed her toward the door, his hand patting her butt lightly.
Khushi froze, gazing back at him with wide eyes.
He winked in reply, Khushi, go or I'll follow you in there. And you know what would happen then..
Khushi blushed for the hundredth time it seemed, spinning around.
God, the man just had to speak and she was like putty in his hands.
She shook her head as she selected a magenta sari.
And then as she was tying the blouse's doris, a horrible thought came to her.
The kitchen!

If Arnav walked into that disaster zone!

Oh God!
Khushi quickly called out to him through their link, not thinking.
Arnav! ARNAV!
He ran down the hallway, opening her bedroom door with a slam "Damn it, Khushi! You gave me a heart attack! What the--"
Arnav stopped, his eyes widening as he got a good look at her.
Khushi though barely noticed, so great was her panic.
Please, Arnav don't go to the kitchen!
It took him a moment to understand that.
His eyes traveled over her longingly.
What? he finally managed.
Khushi looked at him pleadingly, Don't go to the kitchen, please. I didn't clean it yet.
He rolled his eyes, turning around. That's all!
Yeah, said Khushi, staring at him confused, And why are you standing like that? With your back to me?
Never mind, said Arnav turning back. He quickly covered her.
Khushi froze, her arm crossing across her as he draped her.
Goodness, she hadn't even realized..
He turned one more time at the door, staring at her intensely, You're beautiful.. Take your time, princess.
Khushi watched him go, her heart beating wildly..
--------------------------------------------------
Arnav leaned back against Khushi's closed bedroom door.
Damn it!
She was driving him absolutely crazy.
How was he supposed to keep his hands off of her?
When she kissed him so passionately..pulled him toward her so innocently.
He ran a hand through his hair, sighing.
Khushi Kumari Gupta..she had no idea what she was doing to him.
Even now, she'd called him to her bedroom without thinking twice.
All for something about the kitchen, he recalled, shaking his head.
He couldn't remember what she'd exactly said..he couldn't get the image of her out of his mind..
Khushi standing worriedly, her eyes huge and shining..in just her blouse..
He cursed as he recalled her soft curves..
How was he going to get through this night..
The doorbell rang just then.
He hurried to it. He didn't want Khushi to run out again half-dressed. No, that was just for his eyes to see, he thought possessively.
"Who is it?" he asked.
"Woof Woof!" barked a dog outside.
Of course, thought Arnav, that dog Waffy or something..
An old woman dressed in a floral suit was outside.
She beamed as he opened the door.
"I was so hoping to meet you, young man. But I had no idea it would be so soon!"
Arnav nodded confused, "Hello, Mrs. Gill is it?"
The woman nodded, "Me and Mr. Gill live next door. And this is Taffy," she said lovingly, gazing down at the dog.
Arnav couldn't resist kneeling down to pat the dog. There was a bright blue bow in the dog's hair.
"Hello, Taffy.." said Arnav softly.
Taffy woofed happily, reached out to lick Arnav's hand.
"Taffy, control yourself!" chided Mrs. Gill, "And dear, did Khushi give you the sugar?"
She hadn't but Arnav saw the bag on the coffee table.
"Here you go, Mrs. Gill."
The old woman smiled, "Thank you so much, dear. I wish I could talk more, but I need to make the cake for Mr. Gill..it's our 42nd wedding anniversary today."
Arnav smiled, "Congratulations!"
"Thank you dear, we have been very lucky. True love is so rare these days. You must never let go of it," she told him, looking at him seriously.
Arnav smiled wider, "Don't worry, Mrs. Gill, I'll never let go of Khushi. She's stuck with me forever."
Mrs. Gill laughed, walking away, "You really are perfect for Khushi. Take care of her, the poor dear deserves it more than anyone."
Arnav nodded, "Bye Mrs. Gill, bye Taffy!"
He closed the door, heading to the kitchen to wash his hands.
He froze as he entered.
The kitchen was a total mess..no wonder Khushi had been in such a panic for him not to come here.
He quickly washed up, looking at the carefully set dining table.
Wonderful aromas assailed him and he slowly headed to the oven, not able to resist a look.
His eyes widened as he looked inside.
Khushi had cooked enough for easily ten people!
He laughed, shaking his head.
She'd done all this for him!

His heart soared at that.

He turned off the oven and then rolled up his sleeves.
Time to get to work, ASR, he told himself.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Khushi looked at herself carefully in the mirror.
And then smiled softly..the sari hugged her every curve and her hair finally looked clean and glossy.
And there was this glow on her face that refused to leave.
She blushed, walking quietly to the living room.
She paused midway, her head swiveling toward her right.
The kitchen was spotless..
Everything had been cleaned..
Arnav..said Khushi, her eyes widening.
His arms wrapped around her bare waist, pulling her flush against his hard body.
You look beautiful, princess, he murmured, kissing the side of her neck hotly.
Khushi closed her eyes as she felt him give her open mouthed kisses.
Baby, the kitchen..she muttered.
It's not a big deal, said Arnav, You made all that food for me..the least I can do is clean up..
Khushi smiled, turning in his arms to kiss him.
Hmm, he said against her lips, If that's my reward, maybe I'll be cleaning up more often from now on..
Khushi laughed, her arm wrapping around his waist as they walked to the door.
The elevator was busy this time of day and Arnav held Khushi close, his arms protective around her.
Khushi blushed as she saw people looking at them, but she didn't pull away.
She needed his touch so much..
Hand in hand, they walked outside.
Khushi smiled as she took a deep breath of fresh air. The sun was setting, the sky was painted in beautiful shades of pink and orange.
Arnav held her hand closely as they walked.
Where are we going? she asked.
A place I want to show you, it's a surprise..
Khushi smiled with happiness, her body tucked against Arnav's side.
--------------------------------------------------------
Ten minutes later, Khushi gazed up at a small ice cream shop.
Arnav slid a hand around her waist, This is my favorite ice cream place in Delhi, I've been waiting years to come here with you.
Khushi though frowned, Arnav, love, you're diabetic. You shouldn't be eating ice cream.
He shook his head, grumbling, I only come here once every few months. And I only have a scoop or two.
Khushi shook her head at him, but Arnav pulled her inside.
Khushi's eyes widened as she looked at all the flavors.
Told you, it's amazing, isn't it?
Khushi nodded excitedly, ordering three scoops. Arnav got half a scoop.
It's hardly fair, he said crossly.
I think it is, said Khushi, eating hers.
She groaned with ecstasy as she tasted the chocolate.
Arnav froze mid-bite, gazing across at her.
Khushi barely noticed, her eyes glued to the ice cream.
She really had no idea what she was doing to him, thought Arnav with a frown.
His hand fisted as he saw her lick the chocolate, and then sigh dramatically.
Stop doing that, he finally said, annoyed.
Khushi's eyebrows furrowed, Doing what?
Eating that way. With all the licking and the moaning..
Khushi flushed and then winked naughtily at him.
This time as she ate, she was purposely slow, her pink tongue slipping out and tasting the chocolate.
She sighed loudly, her eyes locked with his.
What did you mean Arnav when you said you couldn't come to my room? What would happen then?
Arnav's lips thinned.
I meant we'd end up in the bed..
Khushi nodded, licking the chocolate slowly.
She tried to keep the blush off her face, as she said naughtily, I can't wait for the day we finally make love..
Arnav froze..had she really said those words?
His innocent Khushi?
He stared at her dumbfounded.
Khushi looked down, staring at her ice cream intently.
Arnav grabbed her hand, pulling her up and out.
What the--! said Khushi, I was only half way done.
But I am, said Arnav, Let's go back, baby.
Why the rush, Raizada? asked Khushi.
Because I am dying to kiss you right now, admitted Arnav, his hand tightening around hers, And don't look at me that way, princess, otherwise I will kiss you right here..
Khushi smiled, raising his hand up to kiss it.
He hissed, his eyes flashing as they hurried back..
------------------------------------------------------
Anticipation hung in the air as they entered the apartment building.
Khushi's heart was racing as she felt Arnav pull her toward the elevator.

A short, portly man dressed in a black uniform suddenly blocked them.

Arnav frowned, pulling Khushi behind him.
His eyes gazed down angrily at the security guard.
"What do you want?"
The guard looked surprised, and then mad, "I should be asking you that. I've never seen you here before.."
Arnav, let me talk to him..said Khushi.
Shush, said Arnav, shielding her.
"It's none of your business," he told the guard coldly, "But since you asked, I own this building."
Khushi gasped behind him, but the guard just frowned.
"Right..and I own the Taj Mahal!" he said, crossing his arms.
Arnav looked taken aback. No one spoke like this to ASR.
Khushi laughed, finally coming forward.
"PJ, it's okay. This is Arnav, my fiance," she explained.
The guard smiled widely as he looked at Khushi.
"Oh, sorry Khushiji, go ahead Sir.."
Arnav frowned as he pulled Khushi toward the elevator.
I think that guard has a crush on you, he said stiffly as they stood waiting for the elevator.
Khushi shook her head, laughing, Don't be silly. You're just mad he managed to stop you, Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada.
Arnav frowned across at her.
Not a good idea to tease me right now, princess, he told her warningly.
Khushi leaned back, Oh, really? And why not?
Arnav's eyes hardened. Because I want you so much right now, Khushi..Because I've been waiting ever since you ate that damn ice cream to lick your mouth..Understand, princess?
Khushi stilled as their eyes locked, anticipation bloomed anew, passion swirled around them.
The elevator doors snapped open just then.
Arnav pulled her hurriedly inside, jabbing the button for her floor.
The doors had just shut and he was on her. His body hard and relentless as he pushed her against the cool, metal wall.
Khushi grasped his shoulders, arching up into him.
His mouth crashed down on hers possessively.
His tongue licked across her bottom lip and slipped inside, plunging deep.
Khushi moaned, her arms wrapping around him.
She met his each kiss with fervor.
There was a loud ringing noise and the elevator doors slid aside.
Khushi froze, her face buried against him.
Her chest was heaving as Arnav pulled her toward the door.
Her hands shook as she opened the lock.
They'd barely taken a few steps inside the apartment when Arnav quickly locked the door and reached for her, his hands grasping her bare waist.
Their kisses were hungry and consuming.
I love you he told her with each kiss.
I love you she echoed, her hands twisting in his hair.
About ten or so very long kisses later, Arnav pulled himself away.
He was breathing harshly as he gazed down at her.
Khushi's eyes were closed, her lips reddened by his mouth and still open.
He fought for control.
Princess, I think it's time for dinner, don't you?
Khushi nodded, as she pulled him inside.
But Arnav noticed she was frowning slightly.
What is it? he asked, as she made him sit at the dining table.
Nothing, she said, heating the food.
Arnav watched her for a few minutes as she bustled around the kitchen.
He lit some candles as he waited.
Khushi smiled as she sat beside him, There, I think that's everything.
Arnav looked down at the feast with wide eyes.
I still can't believe you did so much.
Khushi nodded, I've always wanted to cook for you..for years now..she confessed.
He nodded understandingly, But, Khushi, we have the rest of our lives now, you don't have to do this again, okay. Just one thing would be perfect.
Khushi nodded, but her eyes were slightly distant.
Arnav sighed, reaching out for her hand.
His thumb soothed her palm softly, What is it? he asked her again.
Khushi shook her head.
Arnav reached for her hand, making her feed him a bite.
Khushi beamed as she watched him take a bite.
Mmm..it's delicious, he said.
Really? she asked
Really, he said, smiling.
And then he held up a spoonful to her lips, Come on, baby. What's wrong?
Khushi ate the bite.
But her eyes shied from his.
It's just that..that I'm sick of always having to stop. When is it going to be our wedding night, Arnav?
His eyes shone brightly, Love, I feel the same way. Each moment away from you is sheer torture. And I can't wait much either. Tomorrow you can meet Di and Nani and the day after, your family can come from Lucknow. I don't want a long engagement.
Khushi nodded as she fed him another bite. But Arnav, weddings take time..there is so much to prepare, so many rituals to complete.
Arnav shook his head, I'll take care of everything. And do you want all the rituals?
Khushi's eyebrows furrowed, Maybe just the most important ones..
He nodded, Fine, we'll combine them. Like mehendi and sangeet same night. And wedding next day. By next week, we'll be on our honeymoon.
Khushi looked at him with wide eyes, You can't do it so fast. Do you have any idea what everyone will think?
Arnav shook his head.
Khushi sighed, looking down, Everyone will think we're getting married to hush things up..
What things? asked Arnav confused.
Color surged into Khushi's cheeks, Really, he was going to make her spell it out for him?
Arnav..she managed, My family, your family, everyone we know, is going to think that I'm..that I'm pregnant.
Arnav paused, gazing at her.
And then he shrugged, Who cares? We both know you're not pregnant..yet..
Khushi blushed, shaking her head, But--
Please, Khushi, we've waited so many years. Can't our marriage just be about us, not the rest of the world..
Khushi thought about that for a moment.
Maybe he did have a point.
People would always talk, but Arnav meant the most to her.
Hmm, she said, taking a sip of water, I agree, I don't want to spend even an extra day without you.
Arnav smiled as he watched her eat enthusiastically.
-------------------------------------------------------------
After dinner, they ended up on the sofa, Khushi draped across Arnav.
His hand brushed through her hair as she explained to him all her wishes for the wedding.
And I want you to wear a sherwani. No business suits allowed, Raizada..and--
Fine, he agreed, What else?
Mmm, and there have to be lots of jalebis for me and lots of roses for you.
He nodded, kissing her forehead.
What about the honeymoon? What do you want then? he asked softly.
Khushi rose up onto her elbow, gazing down at him.
Her hand cupped his cheek.
Come on top of me, baby, she whispered.
What? said Arnav, his eyes widening.
Khushi nodded, heat surging through her as Arnav quickly changed positions.
She pulled his head close, smiling up at him.
On our honeymoon, I want just this, she admitted, Your weight on top of me, your lips on mine..
Arnav smiled leaning down to kiss her gently.
I love you, Khushi..
I love you, Arnav..
Before things got too out of hand, he pulled away, his head cushioned on her sari-covered breasts.
Khushi smiled, running her hands through his hair.
It's late, said Arnav, But I can't seem to leave.
Then don't, said Khushi, Sleep over..
Arnav smiled, kissing her soft flesh.
She shivered beneath him.
It would be hard to control ourselves, princess.
Khushi sighed, and then a great idea came to her.
She pushed him up and toward the other end of the sofa.
What the--said Arnav as he leaned back on the opposite side.
Shh, murmured Khushi, Just put your feet up.
She nodded as he mimicked her.
They were facing each other on the long sofa, their legs meeting in the middle cushion.
Arnav pulled her feet into his lap, massaging softly.
Khushi hands knotted as she fought the urge to run back into his arms.
See, she told him breathlessly, We can behave.
Oh really? he said amused.
Yes, said Khushi firmly.
And now what should we do? I just want to kiss you..
Khushi nodded, I want that too, but we always end up losing control. Let's just play a game instead.
Game? said Arnav, surprised.
Yes, said Khushi, Isn't it a great idea? We can be near and still behave.
Fine, what game? asked Arnav, playing with her toes.
Khushi shrugged, Anything..I have some cards..
That's lame, said Arnav, How about truth or dare?
Fine, said Khushi, I'll start. Dare.
Arnav looked at her intently.
I dare you to dance, he finally said naughtily, his eyes twinkling.
Khushi laughed, getting up, That's so easy..
Arnav though shook his head, No, beautiful, let me finish. I dare you to dance sexy.
What? said Khushi, her eyes widening.
You heard me..
Khushi blushed, but turned on some slow music.
She danced for him provocatively, her hips swaying, her eyes locked with his.
She noticed with pleasure as his eyes darkened as he watched her.
She purposely leaned toward him, giving him an eyeful.
His hand reached out, but she jumped back, shaking her head at him naughtily.
Two could play this game..
As the music stopped, Arnav fought for control.
Damn it, she'd won that round.
His hands itched to touch her, but Khushi plopped down on the sofa, her feet rising onto his lap once more.
He touched her legs longingly, his hands sliding under the sari.
Baby..she murmured, her eyes closing, Stop..
He sighed, moving back downward.
Fine, but promise me something, he said.
What?
That's you'll dance like that on our honeymoon.
Khushi blushed hotly, but nodded.
Promise, Arnav. Now, come on, it's your turn. Truth or dare?
Truth, he answered.
Hmm, said Khushi, thinking hard, We've shared so many fantasies, but what is one fantasy that you came up with tonight?
He stilled, his eyes darkening once more as he looked at her. He remembered how beautiful and flustered she'd looked when she'd opened the door for him, flour dusting her face, her hair in pigtails..
You..dressed in an apron..
Khushi frowned, You mean cooking for you?
Arnav shook his head, gazing at her heatedly, No, princess. You before me, dressed in an apron..only an apron..
Khushi's mouth dropped open.

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9 comments:

  1. Too sexy and hot but loved their fight,making up,jealousy and final admission and they truth or dare game!

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  2. forgot to mention, loved the part where he braided her hair! that was so cute!
    dreamymaya(IF)

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  3. Finally no more games just pure honesty. Can't wait for them to get married!

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  4. this story is just awesome... really enjoying reading this... love their mental connection.... :D awwwwwww cuteeeeeee

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  5. so beautiful yet sexy...... so beautiful narration

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  6. Lovely and hot....
    Emjoying it very much....

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  7. wow !!!!!! it was really hottttt !!!!
    but loved that they are controlling themselves very hard for wedding night to be special.....
    loved it very much...

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  8. hey tina i am new reader i want to read this ff but not able to read it clearly due to it's background picture . Request u to please highlight what u have written or make the background white so that it's easy for the readers

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  9. Reading this story again.... can't help it

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