“You haven’t said a word in the last hour,”
Khushi placed her home keys on the table and turned around to see Arnav closing the door behind him. They’d decided to come back to her place straight away, skipping dinner and the plan to return Raagini’s car – both of which suddenly seemed too mundane to waste time over. And yet, it was a reality that her head was pounding and her heart almost about to give up. Her finger nails were now blue and it was still sweltering hot outside, rain still imminent in the air.
“I was listening to the songs.” She said softly. It was a complete lie and though they’d decided to be honest with each other, she knew there would always be things she would keep to herself. Not the things that needed conversation of course, that much she promised herself and him (silently).
“In the hour and ten minutes we took to get home, love, we heard exactly two songs and five hundred advertisements. Not to mention that ridiculous RJ trying to be funny.” He pointed out, every word measured and every inch of facial muscle moving in careful precision. If she had any doubt about the impact of what she had declared on him, it was fast flying out of metaphorical windows.
She widened her eyes, vowing to keep the moment as light as it could be for as long as it could be – for her own nerves as much for his. “You don’t like RJ Avi! How is that possible? He is hilarious. Especially his mimicry bit. He does this impression of a Bangalore local and it’s the best thing I’ve heard ever.”
He smiled and shook his head. “I don’t know whether to compliment or criticize your taste given what it will say of me just as eloquently.”
This time she chuckled and shrugged. “You are sure you don’t want dinner? I have potatoes – I can try and make a sabzi…I cannot cook rotis to save my life but with bread…”
“I don’t want food.” Arnav replied as he walked in through the small foyer into the living room that was not much larger but seemed to be more spacious given Khushi had spent no money or effort in furnishing it more than it needed.
“Okay.” She replied and then looked around her nervously. The small lamp on her right, the sofa-cum-bed on her right, the couple of picture frames on the small room partition leading up to the bedroom, everything in her home, things that made it what it was, suddenly felt alien. They had decided to come back to her house instead of making it to Arnav’s despite the fact that she was curious as hell to know what his space said about him. And though she was thankful for the familiarity around her, she knew that she would never see any of these things the same way after tonight. Something about Arnav’s presence here in her home, the fact that he’d breathed the same air as what probably brushed against her earthly possessions, had changed everything irreversibly.
And that was not all that was going to change irreversibly this night, a voice spoke in her head as she watched Arnav walk right up to her and stop just an inch away. She tilted her head up so she could look into his eyes.
“You are nervous.” He said softly as he reached out to curve his palm around her neck.
“And you aren’t?” She asked him as she felt his skin tremble against hers.
He smiled and dipped his mouth to place kisses on her lips, light ones that teased her mercilessly. “No.”
“Liar,” She accused him as she stepped forward and wove her fingers into his hair.
“Maybe a little.” He confessed when she kissed his ear lobe and nibbled at the skin beneath it. “Khushi, I know what you said earlier,” He whispered as he kissed the base of her neck. “But, I…we’ve waited a long time. Waiting for some more is will be hard – pun intended – but I’m sure we can manage it. If you are not sure about this tonight, we don’t have to rush it.”
“And waste the last minute pharmacy stop?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I knew it bothered you.” He said as he leaned away to look at her.
She smiled and shook her head. “No. I just…” She bit her lip. “You’ll think I am stupid. And worse, in your new we should tell each other everything mode, you’ll tell me exactly how stupid you think that is.”
Arnav chuckled. “Ouch. Here I thought I was being rather sensible with the honesty campaign.”
“You were,” She said as she raised her hand and smoothed his hair away from his forehead only to watch it fall back over his eyes like it had a mind of its own. “But I can’t keep letting you get away with feeling like the only smart one always, can I?”
“If you are still counting, you might want to add this to the list of reasons why I love you.” Arnav whispered as he turned his face and caught the middle of her palm with his lips as his fingers wrapped themselves around her wrist.
“You love me because I make you feel like an idiot?” She asked with a raised eyebrow. “I can do more of…”
Before she could finish her statement, he twisted her arm slightly and pushed it behind her back, pulling her torso up against his as he dipped his head and kissed her again. This time his kiss was different. Perhaps her response was just as different too. They’d known urgency and breathlessness before but this time, there was a sense of certainty and purpose in their exchange that colored everything and left a blazing trail of anticipation in its wake. She felt it in the brush of his hands that slipped under her shirt and tugged at it in silent permission. A wave of embarassment flooded her senses as she recalled her many mirror memories. It took her a minute to push them away and nod ever so slightly in acknowledgement. It was a minute that showed her he was willing to wait an eternity of such – if that’s what it took.
So when he pulled her shirt over her head and cast it aside, leaving her more exposed physically than she had been in front of anyone else, she breathed in deeply and willed herself to focus on the short pulses of pleasure that were tingling against her exposed skin.
“Open your eyes.” He whispered hoarsely. “Look at me.”
She hadn’t even realized her eyes had closed of their own accord. She opened her eyes slowly to look at him staring down at her, his eyes brilliant. She stepped as close as she could and threw her hands around his waist, burying her head in his neck. The feel of his body – fully clothed as it was against her partially bare one, was incomparably arousing. It stole her breath every time the soft cotton of his shirt brushed against her skin.
“You were telling me about the pharmacy pitstop,” He whispered against her ear as his index finger looped into the strap on her right shoulder and pulled it down. Before she could take another steadying breath, he was kissing the slope of her breast, his fingers expertly teasing their way to the evidence of her desire, strengthening it to the point of unnecessary shyness. “If it didn’t bother you…”
“I,” She licked her lips as his head moved further south, exposing more skin as it travelled. Did he really expect her to keep up a conversation when he was doing what he was? “I just realized that all this…”
“Sex, you mean?” His teeth grazed the contrasting contours of skin above her wildly thumping heart.
“Fuck,” She whispered as his tongue replaced his teeth and thought muddled into uncomprehensible chaos in her head.
“That too,” He whispered many moments later as he tugged her other strap down her shoulder and replicated his ministrations. “What did you realize, Khushi?” He asked another set of inexorably pleasure-filled moments later, breathing as heavily as she was when he lifted his head up and looked into her eyes.
“Are you trying to drive me crazy?” She whispered as he leaned in and unhooked her bra, allowing it to fall freely between them before he tugged at her hair and let it fall over her shoulders.
“Is it working? Because that would be a very small peek into what you’ve been doing to me all these days.” He whispered as he allowed his hands to caress her bare arms and curve around her neck and into her hair before pulling her flush against him again, kissing her – now ravenously as he explored everything they had been only testing waters with all these months. “If you could see how sexy you look right now, disheveled and brilliantly warm, you’d never question your attractiveness to me ever again, baby.”
She swallowed her instinct to dismiss his claim and once again reminded herself to feel the sense of carnal bliss that was overpowering every rational thought and every schooled response. “I’d like to be able to see what sexy and dishelved looks too.” She whispered as she tugged at his shirt.
“Take what you want,” He offered simply, his eyes burning as he watched her fingers fumble against the buttons of his shirt. She gave his shirt another hesitant tug, pulling out of the band at his waist. She shivered as his hands slipped down her bare back and curved along the slopes and turns of her body. She licked her parched lips again in what she guessed (correctly) would be last moment of lucidity before she could gather the courage to take exactly what he encouraged her to.
She woke up to the feeling of very agreeable lassitude that seemed to have seeped into her bones. A sense of delicious weariness stretched and snuggled into the unknown crevices she discovered in her own body as she shifted and adjusted herself. The warmth of a gently rising and falling chest, a strong and sleep-laden arm splayed around her waist and curved gently at the curve of her hip and the little brush of surprisingly soft feet against her calves – everything reminded her of just how wonderfully satiated she was.
“Good morning,” He whispered into her ear. She turned around gently in surprise as she saw him watching her, his eyes heavy with what she hoped was sleep. Because if it was desire…Smiling at the barely hidden wishfulness in her own thoughts, she leaned back into his chest. The room was swathed in darkness, the only light coming from the natural paleness of midnight mixed with street halogens and electronic devices displaying time.
“Did I pass out?” She asked with a small smile.
“I wish I could say I was good enough to cause that.” He said softly as he sighed against her jaw and tightened his hold on her waist. A series of warm tingles erupted along her arm and she shivered slightly. A slow rise of heat sent shock waves up her torso and surprised her with the strength of her own response to his proximity. She looked up instinctively at her clock and realized that she had slept for less than an hour.
“Did you fall asleep too?”
“Hmm,” He agreed. “If I had not, you’d be waking up a lot sooner.”
She smiled and sighed against his chest, closing her eyes as she became aware of soreness in hitherto unexercised muscles.
“So what was it you never realized after all?” He asked softly, picking up the thread that had earlier been let go in the pursuit of greater pleasures
“And I thought I was the curious one.” She said with a chuckle.
“When it comes to you, I seem to be a lot of things I never realized I was.” He confessed with a nip at the skin of her neck just below her jaw.
She closed her eyes and suppressed the need to let out a hungry moan.
“Hmm?” He insisted against her and she sighed, realizing that he wasn’t going to let it go.
“I never realized that sex…making love…can be this…ermmm….interesting even when it is so planned.” She confessed. “I mean the well thought of pharmacy visit, of course.” She realized she had half expected him to carry condoms and yet, if he had, she’d have worried endlessly about why.
Arnav chuckled. “You mean what we did was not romantic enough?”
She thought for a moment and then nodded. “Not the kind of romance that comes packaged in fiction, at least.”
He stayed silent in response to that statement but it was a silence that didn’t bother Khushi like some others had in the past. She didn’t know if it was the intimacy of what they’d shared this night or the relationship they’d built in the last few weeks, but she seemed almost sure in the knowledge that he had taken her words at face value.
“You mean a novel version might have had us going at it without care for protection or protocol?”
“Going at it?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.
She felt him smile at against her skin as he rubbed his nose against her ear, deeply inhaling her scent. It was an act so erotic that her skin broke out into gooseflesh all along her arms. As if instinctively tuned in to her actions, he kissed the corner of her bare shoulder. It was a gesture so unexpectedly familiar that she turned to lie on her stomach and snuggled up his body. A smile curved her lips into a crescent that refused to either dim or bloom as the minutes ticked by in slow upsurge in the pace of their heartbeats and of their breaths.
She looked up at him, confused by the unbridled regret in his voice. When the expression on his face matched right up to the tenor of his voice, her smile finally slipped and her brows creased.
“I hurt you. I really wanted it to be…”
She leaned up and kissed him, hard enough to make him groan. A lightening bolt of satisfaction shot through her core as she realized she could feel him hardening against her very generous curves. “I have to find a way to make sure you talk less when we are doing this” She whispered as she adjusted herself and allowed her hands to explore. “Does it look like I’m hurt?” She asked as he titled his head back and swallowed wordlessly. She wasn’t, for once, lying completely. When he’d entered her body, as willing and ready as she had been given how eloquently he’d made her body shatter just seconds ago – using his enviously proficient touch and teeth, it had hurt. For a moment following the intrusion, as welcome and eagerly anticipated as it was, she had wondered why sex was even half as exalted as it was. But the sight of him struggling to keep his sanity even as his body surged to claim what nature had programmed it to seek, was enough for her to ask him to slow down but not stop. And as he had worked to help her, a slow tizzle of pleasure had seeped into crashing bodies. That her fulfillment had come from a little help than just the rhythm that was touted to be as old as time, had been of little consequence and endless awe.
“At the moment, no, not quite.” He said gruffly, his eyes closed. Emboldened by the intensity of his response, she continued her discovery, replacing hands with lips. He hissed as she found the most sensitive spots on his body and let herself probe what she had discovered for sharper response.
“I’m trying to take this slow, Khushi.”
“Apologizing was the wrong thing to do, then” She smirked, surprised by her own audacity. Losing one’s virginity may not as pleasurable as romance novels made it out to be but there was something to be said about the freedom it seemed to have bestowed on her to explore what would have only scandalized her if she’d heard about it in third person. She lowered her lips to his arms, tracing the scar she knew marked his skin with a purely erotic allure, with her lips. When she felt him move to accommodate her need for space to do what she was doing, she retraced her paths against other significantly more erogenous lengths of his body, making him groan in a barely controlled entreaty.
“This is torture.” He rasped as she watched his head fall back on the pillow as his eyes closed and his fingers curled into her hair. She felt a surge of power bubble up into her skin as she continued to follow her instinct and learn what his body told her and what her body felt in response.
“Enough,” He said some time later as he flipped her over and loomed over her. “I don’t know how we got through all these weeks without doing this but I promise you I won’t be able to exercise any control anymore. Especially not if you keep up what you are doing.”
She smiled at him. “All talk, AV-Sir” She whispered and raised her hips to meet him, pushing her head back against the pillow even while savouring the feel of his chest against hers. “What are you waiting for?”
“To watch you come apart in my arms,” He said gruffly as he held her hands by her sides and lowered his head, kissing her navel and working his way down. Eventually, she had no choice but to curse with the choicest of expletives in her repertoire as she went on to do exactly what he was waiting for.
She stood in front of the mirror, her glasses folded neatly and placed on the large granite top beside the white basin. She narrowed her eyes and examined her hazy reflection for what she still couldn’t gather courage to do with clarity and artificially enabled retinal focus. Taking a deep breath, she reached out for her glasses while keeping her eyes fixed on the image that copied her actions. As she pulled the glasses on, the hair splayed over her bare shoulders brightened to a more defined black as her pale skin came into sharp focus, tan lines visible at the half-sleeve mark and a slightly fainter one at the V defined by her collar bones. A deep pink bruise marked with the sharp edges of teeth slashed at the base of her neck, twinning with the one that now seemed to permanently reside at the swell of her breast. As the blood seeped in a rush to her face, she lifted her eyes to meet the one that stared back from the wall in front. A small smile curved itself into her swollen lips as her eyes twinkled and swept close in a moment of unfettered and unrivalled contentment.
When the moment passed, she let her arms wrap themselves around her waist and sighed as her gaze travelled downwards in response to her movement and found the bulges that she had so effectively ignored all night long.
He’d seen her at last. All of her. More of her than she had seen herself. And she’d not just survived, she’d relished every moment of it. Okay, she corrected herself, almost every moment of it. She wasn’t sure he’d done anything to help with her lifelong battle with the mirror but there was a sense of desirability that she couldn’t deny. For every one of the flashes of wanting to hide herself behind anything that was available at her disposal, she had moments of complete obliviousness of her own self-confirmed defeciences. And while it was nowhere close to acceptance, it was something.
Years of independent living and the best kind of modern upbringing that there was, however, now screamed in her ears at the inappropriateness of her relief. She wasn’t a woman who needed a man to make her feel worthwhile. Did today and the fact that it was from Arnav that she drew the first breaths of resuscitation that her body needed, change that? Did this make her weaker than she thought herself? Or was this, just another one of those insane human connection side-effects that she struggled with and had craved for all her life? Was needing another to feel better about oneself, a sign of weakness or one of being human? Was it a crutch or a Launchpad, slow poison or a strong endorphin?
She knew, with a deep sigh, that she could argue both ways and convince herself of whatever she wanted to while letting the other side prickle under her skin like an errant splinter that neither hurts nor leaves one in peace. She knew, as she pulled her hair into a bun and readied herself to join the man she loved, that she would feel both in the life that was waiting for her. What shaped her life eventually, was a puzzle she probably wouldn’t see in its entirety till it didn’t matter anyway.
If there was one thing she did know, it was to take what she had and make the best of it. She’d done in every aspect of her life except the one that involved her heart and the man waiting for her outside. Perhaps, she told herself with a last glance at the mirror – bidding it goodbye again after a short and special rendezvous that the past few moments had been, it was time to change that.
River Song, Music and Lyrics
Song Title: O Saiyyan
Singers: Roop Kumar Rathod
Music: Ajay – Atul
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Odhun teri kaaya,solah singaar main saja loon
Sangam ki yeh raina, isme tyohaar main mana loon
Khushbu teri chhooke, kasturi ho jaaon
Kitni feeki thi main, sindoori ho jaaon
Sur se zara, behki hui, meri duniya thi badi besuri
Sur mein tere, dhalne lagi, bani re piya main bani bawri
Last Chapter: Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017, late night IST (I am travelling on Monday)
A three part Epilogue will follow the last chapter