As they reached home that evening, Ria stepped into the house and walked towards her room. Though things had lightened between Gaurav and her, her heart was still heavy and she wasn’t able to take her mind off what had unfolded at that bungalow…
“Ria…?” Gaurav called out to her as she was about to enter her room. “…uh… can we talk…? Please…?” He looked pained, extremely out of place and that was the last thing she wanted.
“..Its… its…OK Gaurav… you aren’t obligated to tell me … anything…I mean…”
“…No…No…I … I want to…but… Ria… I need… uh…” she saw him rub down his face and the rate at which he had been doing it, she hoped he didn’t wear his handsome face out.
She walked up to him and held his hands. “Gaurav… listen to me… I … I never intended to make you uncomfortable… but just… just keep it in mind… I am right here… whenever you are ready to talk… I am here…”
“…Ria… it isn’t good… Its…” He looked away.
“…hey look at me Gaurav…” she held his face loving the grizzly feel of his day-old stubble. “…we are friends first…isn’t it…?” He nodded as he continued. “…So, no judgements… Ok…?” He nodded slowly this time. “… Gaurav… you didn’t judge me when you knew about my life… so rest assured I won’t either… I don’t promise I can help you in any manner Gaurav, but I am here…”
He pulled her towards him and hugged her tightly. “…Thank you, Ria… that’s all I need… and …I am sorry about today… I … I displaced my anger on you and that was uncalled for… and Ria…?” when she looked up into his eyes, he continued, still holding her close. “… whenever you are ready… uh… will you tell me about what Vikram did…?”
Her eyes filled and she shuddered as she thought about that day and hugged Gaurav digging her head into his chest as the citrus fragrance so synonymous with Gaurav now, calmed her racing heart. “ Ria…” she looked back at his face blurred by her unshed tears as he held her face. “…I promise you I am going to teach that asshole a lesson he will never forget… he will never lay his filthy hands on an unsuspecting woman ever again…”
“…Let him go Gaurav…” she whispered sniffling away tears. “…he is not worth it…” she covered his hands over her face and leaned to one side. She then turned and kissed his palm. He hugged her again kissing her head… another gesture she loved so much… that showed what a caring man he was. She wished with all her heart that he would find the same peace that she had achieved…someday. “…um… GAurav…?”
“…About that…um… red room…I…I was … scared…I… can’t…” she spoke into his chest.
“…Its ok Ria… let it go… its not worth it either…”
The next two months were sheer bliss for Ria. She had never been so happy in her life. They had a routine. Every day, after a breakfast together, Gaurav left for the hospital where he continued to work in admin while she spent most of her time designing her new centre and also doing online consult, interviewing staff etc. They had visited Parijath twice and Kalyani had been thrilled to welcome her into their fold. She had almost finalised the staff for her centre which was to be inaugurated next month if everything went as per schedule. Gaurav had been enthusiastically supporting her having taken the back seat. They had once stayed there overnight where Gaurav had dragged her to the stables post dinner to show her the newly remodeled home she had seen last time. This time there was a proper bedroom and as soon as she saw it, Gaurav wasted no time in taking her then and there on the beautiful double bed. Talk about proper introductions… They stayed there that night falling asleep late into the night as they talked amidst the horse’s hoots. Gaurav told her it was Shiva calling for his attention as she chuckled. Even before she fell asleep, she knew when Gaurav got up to leave the room… but by now she had got used to it and had accepted it…
Back home, Keith was always around and was becoming her best friend and guide. Gaurav would call at least twice daily from work and they had ‘stuff’ to talk about, that never seemed to end. They spoke about work hiccups, achievements, drags and encouraged each other to improvise. Every call would leave her missing him… wanting him. Whenever he came home early, she would coax him to paint and realized he had genuine artistic talent. He was also smiling more often these days. Nights were filled with passion which only increased with every passing night. She didn’t even know she had so many pleasure points on her body. Or it must have been Gaurav….rather…his touch. However, they still slept separately… They usually had sex on the couch in the living room even as a movie played on in the dark, their combined silhouettes painting shadows on the wall…, once in the kitchen when she had gone hunting for tea but hadn’t found and he had come to help out….finishing the act against the kitchen counter… or her room, from where he left after she slept. She avoided going to his room as she didn’t want him to move out to sleep on the couch…But Ria was now used to it and though she longed to wake up with him like that night those months ago, she decided to let go.
Overall life was great but she only had one regret. She wanted to smooth things out with her parents…. She didn’t expect anything but just wished to be on talking terms. But they never answered her calls and Keith advised her to give them some time.
She also missed touching Gaurav…without his clothes on. She wanted to ‘see’ him though he had never undressed before her. She knew he had a great body which she had seen when he wore figure hugging t shirts. She knew he rose with the roosters and worked out diligently. She had seen those super abs and biceps whenever he flexed his hands… or picked her up to have his way with her… She wanted to explore that wonderful body but he never let her touch him more intimately. She decided to break the ice and go overboard tonight as she waited for him.
Like every evening Gaurav came home by 8PM. They had his favourite dinner of jeera rice and daal fry which she had prepared specially for him. She wore a new nightgown she had purchased recently without him knowing… it was an off-shoulder gown and moulded her heavy assets pretty well at both ends. She had paid a bomb for it but it was all worth it when she saw him drooling at dinner and she knew it wasn’t the food. His heated gaze at dinner almost made her come right there and she had to rush to the kitchen under the pretext of winding up stuff as he finished eating. As she stood panting hunched over the sink staring aimlessly at the tap, he grasped her from the back… when had he arrived…? His hands roamed around her belly feeling the satin and also heating her insides as they traversed a tortuously slow path upwards and soon rose higher to cup her mounds. Her breasts were straining against the cloth barriers and she wanted his touch and …his mouth on those ultra-sensitive peaks…
He lifted her squealing body over his shoulder and took her to his room. He didn’t switch off the lights as he usually… did whenever they went missionary. She was euphoric …was this the day…she wondered…. He pushed her on the bed and followed on top covering her. He kissed her as he played with her pebbled nipples straining through her gown and she almost came again. She never wore her panties at night and this dress didn’t need a bra…but now she wanted to get rid of the only remaining barrier between her body and his hands. He did the needful and soon she was writhing and moaning below him as he sucked her areola and tugged at her aroused nipples. She almost had a blackout when she shattered hitting the sides of the bed as she did. As she was getting her bearings back, he moved down towards her core. He had never given her the mouth… He bent her legs at the knees and held them apart as he watched her apex and then stared into her eyes… she knew what he wanted… her trust and she smiled. She was thrilled to see his expressions change like a kid getting his favourite candy… And she was his sweetmeat treat today… that thought itself sent waves of pleasure crashing through her veins. She was so aroused that she could feel her juices flow down her crevice. He bent down and blew at her clit as she shivered and she could feel the build-up of yet another orgasm. He kissed her clit and entered her with his tongue. As he thrust in and out, he also lapped up her juices. She tightly clutched the bed sheets on either side and moaned…. within moments she cried out his name as she went the deep bright end over and over… She was drained out totally but was moonstruck all over again when she looked at him heavy lidded. He was staring hungrily at her licking his lips, as if he had eaten his favorite pie but wanted more. She was amorously turned-on and couldn’t wait for him to be inside her. As if reading her thoughts, he slid his pant a little to release his arousal and before her next thought, he held her thighs and plunged into her wetness. Within a few strokes he pinched her nub and she rose her body…reaching a crescendo where the waves crashed at her repeatedly till, she fell back on the bed…. he followed her with a huge roar as he emptied himself inside.
Ria woke up with some kind of a noise totally disoriented. She then realized with a disappointment; she was in Gaurav’s cold room…alone. The night lamp was on beside her bedside and she checked the time. It was 2AM. Probably Gaurav was using the uncomfortable couch she thought, guilt eating her up. She thought of waking him up to get back here and she would return to her room…. It was then she heard it.
“No …please don’t…. NO… NO…” Gaurav was in agony…. Ria remembered hearing this on her first night in this house. She quickly put her gown back on and rushed to the living room. Gaurav was lying on the couch his face contorted in pain, the scar shining in the dim night light and he had held his hands tightly in a fist. He was sweating profusely; his clothes were wet and in the glow of the subtle light, she saw he was crying. Her heart broke…she couldn’t let him live the nightmare. She gently touched him to wake him up. “Gaurav….hey… wake up…”
Gaurav got up with a start and looked blankly around him. He rubbed his face and sat up on the couch looking away. She sat next to him on his right. He didn’t look at her but turned his body away. ” Gaurav… Want to… talk about it?” she almost whispered keeping her right hand on his lap as she gently rubbed his back with her left.
Gaurav didn’t respond. He gripped her hand on his thigh tightly as if his life depended on it and stared widely at the opposite wall. Ria didn’t say anything but just kept running his back and hugged him from the side. He turned towards her and held her face in his hands. “…Ria…I… want you…. I …r… right now…please…” His voice cracked on a whisper…
Ria wasted no time in pulling him towards her as she kissed him. He pushed her down on the couch devouring her mouth and dragged his hands on her thighs upwards raising her gown. She circled her legs around him in the confines of the couch and within the next two seconds he slammed into her. He rocked into her with an intensity she had never seen and she raised her hips to match his thrusts. She hugged him tightly towards her as he buried his face in the crook of her neck. He kept biting her there and sucking the area to relieve the tinge. She climaxed soon, followed by him screaming into her neck and spilling inside her….
They lay in that position for a while and though he was on top of her he was careful not to put his weight on her. She held him to her gently rubbing his back…offering all the comfort she could given the limited knowledge she had about his nightmares, but she had her’s enough to know they were unnerving enough…
Ria woke up in her room where Gaurav had dropped her into last night after their rendezvous on the couch. He had kissed her passionately for what seemed like ages and hugged her… then reluctantly leaving her room. Ria wanted to coax him to spend the remainder of the night with her but knew he wouldn’t agree, besides she was exhausted and had been asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. She now looked at the wall clock. It was 9AM…. She sat up with a jolt. Gaurav must have left for work and she wanted to make sure if he was Ok. She changed and rushed to the living room. Keith was in the kitchen ready with her coffee and his perennial smile that lightened up her mood and told her to check her messages winking at her.
She ran back to her room and dug out her phone smiling as she skimmed through her inbox. Gaurav had indeed left her a message.
“Hey sleepy head… You are even more beautiful when asleep. Am caught up in back to back meetings. May not call… Get ready at 7PM tonight. Will pick you up for dinner. Wear anything casual.
Wow…this was the closest he had come to typing out a personal message.
She typed a thumbs-up emoji and kept the phone to charge.
As she sipped her coffee, Ria was lost in thought. She had a lot of questions unanswered where Gaurav was concerned but realized that he needed time to open up to her. She would wait. He was warming up to her gradually…. She smiled as she thought of the message she had just read. Gaurav and she had become intimate and shared lots of small stuff like relevant and irrelevant day-to-day topics. She looked at their living room walls now having two framed pictures. One clicked on their wedding day and another of Gaurav sitting in his office. She had loved the picture and forced him to hang it there. There were also a couple of his paintings. She often spoke with Preeti who told her Gaurav was no longer the monster people had thought him to be. In fact, he even smiled at his employees and conversed with them occasionally. Ria had been thrilled with the positive changes in him.
She soon got busy with her daily routine.
After lunch she received a call. Private number. She was waiting to hear his voice and was extremely happy. She closed her bedroom door, last seeing an amused looking Keith as he walked around the house with the vacuum cleaner.
“Hey” she answered the call.
“Ria…is that you baby?”
“Ashok chitthappa…?” Ria asked startled to hear her paternal uncle’s voice. Where the hell was, he all this while…?
“Of course, it’s me baby…“
“Oh my God… I can’t believe it’s you…. So, you finally got the time to call… is it…?”
“…You know baby…duty calls. I was undercover for the CBI. Last eight months…. I couldn’t contact anyone. Couldn’t compromise the operation…. Just wound up everything and reached Chennai yesterday….”
“So… um chitthappa, you know…. um…I am married…”
“In fact, that’s why I want to meet you baby. I am reaching Pune tomorrow. Your appa had mailed me about the turn of events. Pooja’s baby shower date also has to be fixed soon. So, I am coming up there to help….” What? Pooja was expecting…? A sudden thought of her with a belly filled with Gaurav’s baby flashed across her mind making her smile.
“…Baby…? Are you there…?”
“…Um… yes…I wish we could meet…”
“Ria, I HAVE to meet you baby. There is something very important I have to discuss with you. Come home. I have spoken to your appa and he has agreed to let you….”
“…appa agreed…?” Well no one said no to her chitthappa… especially not her father. She was sure chitthappa must have twisted his arm… nonetheless she was glad and hoped she could sort things out to get a closure. She didn’t need any bitterness in her life.
“…Yes, dear he did. He loves you though he has a lousy way of showing it…. Come baby…. Tomorrow, be there in the morning by 11 AM. We can have lunch like old times…”
“Ok Chitthappa… cu tomorrow morning”
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