An hour later they both lay spent on the small bed their legs entwined and she in the crook of his arms… drawing circles on his chest.
“My little sparrow?”
“Come home with me… live with me…in my house…. As my wife…” He said with a very soft voice…
Namrata jerked up on her elbows and looked into his eyes… did he just propose to her?
“Did you… did you…? … did you just ask me to…m…m… marry you?” she fumbled breathlessly.
He sat up straight. Then searching for the towel he wrapped it around his hips. He got down on one knee and held her hand. “My dearest little sparrow… will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”
Namrata was on a crying spree since afternoon and this moment wasn’t any different. She struggled to say “yes”
He laughed and lifted her up and around and kissed her passionately. After the kiss ended they were panting. She held his cheeks and said, “there is… something…you need to know…”
He looked at her with a frown… she swallowed and said, “Um… I am pregnant… about three months…”
He stared at her as if she had sprouted wings. “Oh my God… it’s not just raining but … it’s pouring blessings…” he had tears as he held her face in his palms and kissed her forehead. “… You know sweetheart? I wanted this the day I realised I loved you… that was when you came home for the first time.”
“… so you are ok with the… baby?”
“…OK? I am on the seventh heaven… you have given me the best gifts of my life…your love and …” he touched her stomach and said, “…. And this one.”
He hugged her tight. “Come on let’s go home… our home… I will meet your mother tomorrow.”
Later in the wee hours of the morning as they lay in each other’s arms looking at each other, she asked, “how did you manage all this… you almost lost everything…. And about me? How did you realise I was framed?”
He sighed as he looked at the wall behind her. “I have been an extra cautious man… I have been ditched many times… starting from my birth. My parents left me to die… then the farce called orphanage….then the street gangs… finally going to juvenile remand. Om Prakash Mehrotra saved my ass and rightfully he is my father. Being a trader wasn’t easy initially. I developed a tough hide… especially after that fiasco seven years ago I was a tough nut to crack…even my engagement which I had thought would be fool proof was set in deceit….” He looked back into her eyes and whispered. “…then you my little sparrow… you came along and quickly chipped that hard exterior… I didn’t even realise when you became a permanent fixture in my heart… So when I was told…. About the information leak…. I just lost control…” He touched his forehead to hers and said, “I died a thousand deaths that day when I confronted you… I knew within my heart that you weren’t the culprit but I had to vent of my frustration…One good thing in my life … that too was tainted… it broke me little sparrow…then James called … immediately after I left your house…”
“James…?” Namrata asked stunned. “…what did James have to do with all this?”
“My love… James was my mole in that company of yours….” He laughed seeing her expression. “…yes… you heard it right. Though my case was dismissed those years ago, I have learnt to keep track of enemies…Premnath had staged his death years ago. I had realised even those years ago, that he was totally disillusioned. He always believed that the money he had planned to siphon was his… Then Smriti started that company about two years ago. I recognised her immediately. I didn’t trust her nor did I want to warn her so I planted James there. I suspected her all the more later when I realised you were employed there. James was asked to keep an eye on you as well. He liked you already and was unhappy to do it. But then we didn’t find anything amiss on either end. Even the cash given to you had no entry in any register… That was because Premnath was remotely managing things. When we lost the first contract by a frisker, my friend Prasad hired an investigator. By the time I left your compound that day we had all dirt against Premnath. I wonder how he thought he could get away. In fact I was surprised he tried all this again. Maybe the Premnath of ages ago could have escaped like he did last time. But this time the frail old Premnath suffering from lung cancer couldn’t. He died about a couple of weeks after the fall out. Then it was easy to trap Smriti…. She wasn’t as smart as her father and her paper trial was easy to convict her…eventually she confessed. They had thought they had tilted the balance in their favour but unfortunately for them, they were living a lie…”
“…How did I feature in all this?” Namrata asked…still not sure where all this was leading.
“You… my darling were a coincidence that they hadn’t expected. They then used you… traded you for information which you unknowingly passed on to them…. giving you gifts and career opportunities….the last time they gave money to Jatin and others as well so that you din’t doubt them… I could have killed him with my bare hands for using you.Your apparent backstabbing hurt me more than the loss of money and he knew it… They arranged your outing to Pune when everything broke lose here… You weren’t here to justify yourself…and I was all alone and… lonely. I am angry that they were privy to our private moments. But I got all those stored recordings destroyed… Our moments my dear…. are just those… OUR MOMENTS.” He stressed.
Namrata was lost in thought.
“What is it little sparrow? What’s cooking in that busy brain of yours?” He asked her.
“You… you also… traded… when I came to your office the next day after that first night… You gave me that proposition…. Wasn’t it some kind of a trade?” she said frowning.
“I…I had no choice little sparrow. I wanted you badly… one night weren’t enough at all… I couldn’t accept the reality that I was falling for you… kind of love at first sight… I was scared to the core of wanting somebody so badly. You could hold me to ransom… and I couldn’t be vulnerable…. So I did what I did… trust me sweetheart, I hate myself for it.” he pulled her close.
“I accepted it so I was involved as well… I think I fell in love with you that first night itself. I don’t know what drove me to you but there was no going back…” Namrata confessed.
Their lovemaking that followed was explosive… they slept till mid-morning next day.
The following morning after feeding the Patel’s cat they went to meet her mother. Her mother was thrilled and in tears. Nirmay too was very happy to see his sister settle down.
“So when do you want to have the wedding?” Her mother asked them.
“After our baby is born…” He declared looking fondly at Namrata. “… I want my lit… er… Namu to enjoy her wedding. Her dream wedding.”
“Fine…” Her mother laughed “But… you know… considering the society we live in… let’s have an engagement ceremony. I want to keep a puja for warding off the evil eye…” her mom blinked tears of joy.
They both agreed and at the end of the day the engagement was fixed for the following Saturday. After the engagement it was decided that she would move in with him…
“You know darling….?” He spoke into her ears. “ … I have an engagement surprise gift for you.”
“What is it?” She asked smiling.
“What’s the meaning of a surprise…?. Have patience my little sparrow…have patience” he whispered.
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