Timeframe: March 2012 – Holi hai..! Written before their holi and their ‘dhakane ek’ convo had been aired, enjoy!
She was looking radiant in white… the simplest of white suits only enhancing her beauty and the barely there sleeves complete with silly pom poms drew his attention as soon as he laid eyes on her.
She was standing by one of the wide pillars just off the living area; he guessed she was directing OP on how to hang some decorations by the way she was waving her arms around looking more and more exasperated by the second. His eyes narrowed and he tilted his head slightly as he considered her; it wasn’t so much the sleeves as the creamy smooth skin of her arms that held his gaze as he watched her.
He put down the now empty glass of milk NK had given him a little while ago saying it was from Anjali and shook his head, feeling a little light headed and strange as his eyes flicked slowly over the living space, taking in the occupants talking animatedly over some Holi supplies.
He looked over at Khushi and everything came into focus again just as he spied some open colour heaped neatly and helpfully on a tray nearby and a wicked smile flashed across his lips. All thoughts of his pre-meet with Akash were forgotten as he dipped his fingers in the bright colour, making sure he had plenty on both hands. Red, he thought still smirking. Perfect…
Khushi sighed, feeling a little frustrated; she wished she could just get up on the stool and hang the decorations up herself because OP was hopeless but Anjali had told her to ask him to do it and Khushi didn’t want to rock the tentative peace they had between them so she was resigned to watching him.
‘Nahi OPji, aise nahi- !’ Khushi’s words ended in a low shriek as she suddenly felt two very familiar hands on her upper arms, right where her short sleeves ended. She held her breath but she couldn’t stop the sparks that shot through her while he ran his hands down her arms slowly, letting his fingers rest on her wrists lightly.
‘Arnavji..?! Yeh aap kya..?’ The unsteady whisper died on her lips when she looked down at her tingling arms and noticed the bright red streaks of colour he’d marked her with and she gasped, ‘Yeh aap ne kya kiya..?! Kissi ne humme aise dhek liya toh kya sochenge..’
She struggled to turn around, knowing her face was probably as bright as the colour on her arms but he held her firmly and leaned in to whisper into her left ear. Khushi tried to keep her eyes open, tried to ignore the way he was holding her too close, tried not to lean back onto his chest when his fingers retraced their steps back up her arm but she failed miserably on all counts while her brain drowsily translated what he was whispering into her ear, ‘That’s the whole point…’
Arnav smiled slowly against Khushi’s ear, happy that he could justify his actions but suddenly not really too bothered about it; his worries seemed pointless and far away right now and he was enjoying watching her squirm too much – not to mention the feeling… ‘Om Prakashji?!’ Khushi’s outraged whisper cut into his thoughts and he blinked in confusion till she continued in a scandalised voice, ‘Aap yeh sab OPji ko dikhane ke liye kar rahe hai?!’ Arnav rolled his eyes and sighed, ‘Shut up Khushi!’
‘Om Prakash!’ Khushi made a face and felt a pang of sympathy when Arnav barked his name and OP almost fell off the stool.
OP’s eyes widened when he saw the two of them standing so close and Khushi tried to elbow Arnav in order to move away but he was rock solid and she barely moved an inch. He reeled out a few random orders which sent OP scrambling away and then she wished she’d been paying more attention because in less than two seconds he’d spun her around and pushed her back against the pillar, leaving her breathless and disorientated.
Arnav looked down into his wife’s shocked eyes, which were now the colour of warm honey and so deep they could easily drown a man… he blinked slowly again wondering what had come over him and forced himself to look away after a few seconds but got distracted again when he spotted another helpfully laid out tray placed on a table next to the pillar. He felt a fresh smirk threaten to take over his face as he leaned his right arm around Khushi to dip a finger in each colour on the tray, his eyes never leaving her stunned face.
He lifted his left hand from her arm and stroked his fingers across her smooth cheek adding a fiery red smudge to her natural blush, turning her face towards where he knew Anjali was seated with Mami and Payal; all pairs of eyes focused on them. Her eyes looked like they would fall out of her head and she spluttered a few unintelligible words while he used that time to let his fingers have free reign over her face, enjoying her each and every reaction as they glided over her nose, across her cheekbones and brushed over her trembling lips.
‘Dhekiye – aap – yeh sab – hum-‘ Khushi kept trying to speak but in between each word Arnav would touch a different part of her face, making her forget everything and lose any intelligent thought while her face continued to burn with heat wherever his fingers had touched her. Her eyes moved again to where she knew everyone was probably watching and her face heated up further at what they must be thinking.
Arnav tilted his head and was apparently admiring his handiwork with smouldering eyes and a lazy smile when Khushi decided she’d had enough – she was Khushi Kumari Gupta and she refused to be smirked at by some self satisfied Laad Governor!
Arnav saw Khushi’s eyes flash and he had the sudden urge to push her further back against the pillar and let his lips follow the same path his fingers had taken a few seconds ago. He blinked, confused by his hazy thoughts but he was already moving forward when Khushi suddenly reached up and ran a couple of fingers down the bridge of his nose, causing him to step back in surprise.
He looked down and saw her fingers covered in blue and his eyes widened as she held up a handful of blue colour threateningly, a mischievous sparkle in her eyes that he hadn’t seen in a long time. ‘Don’t you dare Khushi Kumari Gupta…’
Khushi ignored Arnav’s low warning and keeping her eyes locked on his, she very slowly and very deliberately brushed the blue colour she’d sneaked off the tray onto first one cheek and then the other, before reaching up and fixing the open collar of his white shirt, smoothing down his black waistcoat, smearing everything in blue…
She held her breath, waiting for the explosion and felt a shudder of both fear and excitement run through her when his eyes darkened and he grabbed her wrist, pushing her back against the pillar again, ‘Tumhari himmat…’
Khushi widened her eyes and shook her head minutely; cutting him off before he could even start and his eyes narrowed when she rolled hers over to where their actions were still being watched by open mouthed members of their family. She tried not to let the bubble of laughter escape when she saw him frown and then grit his teeth in frustration but she couldn’t hide the twinkle in her eye and suddenly her mouth went dry when she saw an almost wild look come into his eyes, ‘D-dhekiye aap aisa kuch…’
This time he was the one to cut her off and Khushi was left speechless when he dipped his head quickly and rubbed his cheek against hers, nuzzling her ear with his lips while his hand buried itself in her open hair. She somehow managed to slip her wrist out of his hand and pushed against him when he didn’t stop; all thoughts of the family forgotten as she tried to contain the havoc that both his lips and the feel of his rough stubble were creating on her senses.
Khushi didn’t know when she’d stopped struggling and given in to the madness but a little while later she realised he’d stopped and they were just standing with their cheeks resting against each other in a loose hug. She was lost, breathing him in and completely surrounded by him; his warm breath ruffled her open hair soothingly and they might have stayed like that for a while except they both heard a loud crash behind him.
Arnav pulled away a little at the noise, trying to focus but his brain was still cloudy and she was all he could seem to think about. He didn’t know what had come over him but he’d seen that challenging glint in her eyes and hadn’t been able to stop – even now he just wanted to pick her up and take her somewhere they could be alone without any stupid distractions…
He looked down and saw her eyes had been closed but now were blinking up at him dazedly and the hands that had been pushing him were still gripping his shirt tightly. She followed his eyes and quickly let go before looking around him to see what had caused the noise. He turned too and then froze when he saw Shyam standing there, covered in green dust from the tray of colour that had recently fallen from his hand.
Arnav felt an almost savage thrill run through him as the man in front of them took in their dishevelled state and the colour that they were both covered in and he smiled when he saw the clenched fists and red eyes.
He felt the haze clear a little but the heady rush was still there as he spoke in a low and lazy voice, ‘Dhyan se Jijaji, yeh green rang aap ko suit kar tha hai but you don’t wanna drown in it…’ He smirked into Shyam’s speechless face and noticed Khushi trying to slip away but his hand shot out, gripping her wrist and pulling her to his side unsteadily. He put an arm around her to steady her, sliding his hand over her slim waist as he looked down at her, getting caught in her eyes again when she stared at him, wide-eyed.
Most of her face was covered in different colours – her nose was lined with yellow and there was a hot pink streak across her left cheek but almost her whole right cheek and ear were now bright purple where the blue on his face had mixed with the red on hers and he knew he must have a matching purple smudge across his face too. He reached up and fixed her hair which had fallen forward when he’d pulled her to him, lining it with more red in the process and feeling an odd tenderness as she watched him searchingly.
They were still looking at each other when Arnav heard a noise and looked up, surprised when he realised he’d somehow forgotten that his brother-in-law was still there. He watched his reaction at seeing them together, feeling oddly detached as he took in the furious expression but then he pulled Khushi closer, stroking her waist slowly in an unconsciously comforting gesture when he saw those eyes flit across her features. He felt an irrationally strong stab of protectiveness when he felt Khushi’s other arm slide around his back, holding onto his side but anything he’d been about to say was halted by the arrival of Akash.
‘Bhai, I thought we had a meeting? Oh…!’ Akash’s eyes widened as he took in his normally no-nonsense no-fun black and white brother’s appearance. His face and clothes were covered in bright blue’s and purple’s and Akash had to hold back a sudden laugh when he noticed Khushi glued to his side, also covered in colour but looking like she wanted to disappear, her face now half hidden behind Arnav. ‘Umm actually, we can have the meeting this afternoon if you’d prefer that..?’
He watched in amazement as Arnav shrugged, not looking the least bit bothered or embarrassed, ‘Sure Akash, this afternoon’s fine.’
Akash nodded and was about to leave when he had a sudden enlightening thought and he couldn’t resist asking, ‘Bhai, kuch dher pehle aap ko NK bhai doond rahe the… with something to drink?’ He smiled when Arnav confirmed that NK had found him and Akash took in his slightly unfocused eyes and too relaxed posture and nodded again as he muttered to himself still grinning, ‘Phir toh meeting cancelled…’
Khushi had hidden her face in Arnav’s side, wishing the ground would swallow her up as Akash left. A few seconds later she realised what she was doing and she detached herself from Arnav with some difficulty and looked around, wondering what had gotten into him and noticing that Shyam had also disappeared. She looked up at him and folded her arms indignantly, trying to sound firm but speaking in a shaky whisper because she could see NK had joined Anjali by the sofa’s and they were pointing towards them, looking like they were headed their way any minute, ‘Aap ko aaj ho kya gaya hai?!’
She watched as Arnav gave her an almost puzzled look, as if he was trying to figure out what was going on himself but Khushi didn’t let his innocent expression get to her as she waited for an explanation; things had been confusing enough for her lately without his lightning fast mood swings… and she could still feel the ghost of his hand moving around her waist and across her stomach, making her knees weak…
Arnav’s eyes had narrowed as he watched her and he suddenly moved from his frozen position, startling her when he pushed his fingers through her hair, cradling the back of her head, tilting it and looking down into her eyes for a second, making her feel dizzy as he spoke in a husky voice, ‘Kyu… aisa kya kiya maine?’
He ran a few fingers over her cheek and they came away the same shade of purple as one side of his face and lips. Khushi watched as he stared at his fingers for a second before looking into her eyes again and she felt her heart miss a beat when his eyes slowly darkened into pools of melted chocolate.
She felt a shudder run through her as he stroked her lower lip with his thumb, coating it in purple fire and his rough whisper left her weak-kneed and trembling again, ‘Mere rang mein hi toh rang na hai tumhe Khushi Kumari Gupta…’
For a moment time stood still as they looked into each other’s eyes, everything else forgotten until their family reached them and Khushi saw her disappointment mirrored in Arnav’s eyes before she watched him slip away while they told her off teasingly for ‘starting Holi’ without them. She heard NK say something about bhang never failing but she didn’t connect it as she continued to watch Arnav’s retreating back till he turned by the stairs and gave her a long, unreadable look.
She brought her hand up to her face, her fingertips tracing her tingling lips unconsciously, still held by his voice and his eyes glittered as they followed the movement of her fingers before he blinked slowly and turned away again, leaving Khushi shaky while his low words rang in her ears, ‘mere rang mein hi toh rang na hai…’ Her stomach did a nervous flip as she remembered the utter belief with which he said those words, his eyes burning into hers; he’d marked her as his in more ways than one and and while the rest of them began celebrating, she had a feeling that her Holi had barely started.