Khushi wiped her forehead as the sweltering noon heat continued to drench her in sweat...she took the shears once again in her hands and started clipping the unwanted parts off the smaller shrubs that grew inside the front garden...today they were cleaning up the garden area and planting new flowering plants so that by next year they would have a full bloom
She looked up to find the two men she had hired for helping out pull out the unwanted weeds and throwing them in the huge plastic bin they had stationed at the entrance for easy removal later...she walked up to them and explained in the local language to mix up the manure in the mud before laying the ground for newer saplings..luckily for them, the unexpected rain last night had done wonders, making the usually dry land soft and manageable
She was just about to start on another larger shrub when Smitha called her in for lunch...she looked at the time to see that it was already half past one and considering she had not eaten anything since morning barring the cup of coffee, her stomach started rumbling at the reminder...she dropped the shears and told the helpers to clean up and eat their lunch as well before starting on the next leg of work
After quickly wiping off her her damp face and a much needed glass of cold water, khushi sat down to eat...her damp hair was stuck to her scalp, thanks to the heat while her clothes were filthy due to the mud and other stains sticking to it which Smitha reprimanded her for...but she shrugged it off knowing that she would have to continue her gardening work anyways, so there wasn't any point in changing...
The loose multicolored t-shirt and old cotton shorts were very comfortable...not that she would be found dead wearing them in front of anyone...especially someone who had been on her mind the entire time...the cutting and cleaning being therapeutic for her to clear his thoughts off her mind for a bit...almost for a bit
She wondered what he was doing out all day...he didn't even know the town that well and what if he lost his way? She wanted to call him to see what was so important that he had to leave so early...but then what would she say? Things were extremely awkward now thanks to what happened last night...she turned bright red just thinking of the way they had lost control...no...never again...or at least till things were more clear...she muttered to herself
And this is how Arnav found her, looking adorable in her oversized clothes and disheveled avatar muttering to herself...probably very much cursing him...but he shook his head, reminding himself of what he had decided on his long drive to the city and then an aimless hour of sipping coffee at Cafe Coorg...a total rip-off of CCD but with better coffee
He had been up since five in the morning thanks to the lack of sleep, but then had decided that he had to get out of the house to put things into perspective...how did it come to this, he wondered? A week ago, he had not even imagined that he would meet a girl who would literally turn his world upside down...he had never been so unsure of anything in his life...not even the decision to lead a double life
The things he felt in her presence was something he had never felt before...the peace and calm of just being in her company...her craziness adding that zing that his life missed...everyday sleeping with her thoughts in his mind and waking up with a smile to once again either spar with her or give her ideas for catching her guava thief...and then the attraction...it was so combustible that even now his blood roared at the sight of her...why was this so complicated!
So he had decided...he will stay away from her...things will never work out between them considering how different they were...yes, opposites attract and this was what was happening here...plus his rational mind knew that his feelings and reactions to her were probably due to the fact that they both stayed in the same house...and since he never really had any kind of female company, his body and mind were finally reacting in a very natural way
Yes, that's all it was...and when she leaves in a few days and he finishes his novel, everything would be back to normal...he would forget about her and she about him...they would go back to their routine life and move on...so with that thought in mind, he had come much earlier than he had anticipated only to find her looking absolutely fetching sitting there at the dining table in her own world
He cleared his throat softly when at the same time Smitha noticed him...she called out his name loudly "Arre sir, you came early! Come and have a seat, i'll serve lunch for you too" she said as Khushi nearly spat out the water she was gulping down...so that feeling she had of him being close was right...and here she was thinking that its her hallucinations again...
She sat up straighter as he came and sat opposite her...his fresh woody scent making her insides do an about turn while her senses stood up in attention...she kept looking down into her plate as Smitha came out with a fresh one for him...she could feel his eyes on her but she did not look up..instead she quickly got up and called out to Smitha "I'm going back to the garden Smitha..." she shouted before she went to her room for a quick freshening
She closed her eyes at her stupidity, wondering what Arnav must be thinking as she made her way into her bathroom...she released her hair out of the no nonsense bun she had atop her head and ran a hand through them...she then wore it in a loose pony at the nape of her neck and scrubbed her face clean before applying some slight kajal and lip balm
Stupid! What was she doing!...she hit her palm on her head as she glared at her reflection on the mirror and walked out of her room into the garden...she was tempted to look at him again but refrained from it and went back to work on her cutting and shearing...with much more gusto then before...
Arnav finished his lunch in record time as curiosity at what she was doing outside ate at him...he had seen the large bin in the courtyard, stuffed to the brim with the foliage and other weeds that the garden was apparently being cleaned off...he had glanced at the two burly men sitting a little away eating their lunch and assumed they must be the ones cleaning
But seeing Khushi in her 'filthy' state had confirmed his suspicion that she too was involved...how could she not be? Miss DIY! He drank a tall glass of tamarind sherbet that Smitha had made for him and got up to walk slowly to the porch...there he stood watching her cutting and pulling at the shrubs as if she was gunning for an award
He wondered how he should approach her to talk about last night...she obviously wasn't being very mature about it since she point blank ignored him and actually refused to even acknowledge his presence...so much for a nice talk...was she upset about him leaving in the morning so abruptly? But why should she be? Unless she...did last night affect her as much as it affected him?
Keeping that in mind he turned away from her, hoping to talk to her later when she would hopefully be in a better mood...because right now he did not want to be anywhere near her for more reasons than one, he thought looking at the 'snip' 'snip' her fast shears made across the overgrown bush
He was just about to turn back and go inside when his eyes caught one of the helpers watching khushi with a shameless glint in his eyes...he saw him ogling her long legs as they glistened under the sun as she bent down to reach the lower edges of the shrubs, her beautifully curved bottom up for free viewing for one and all! He suddenly felt his blood boil as the helper continued to gaze at khushi who was blissfully unaware of the lascivious looks she was getting
Without thinking about anything, he walked straight to the man and caught him by the lapels... "You bloody swine!..." he started saying to the throughly scared man when Khushi came running behind him "Arnav! What are you doing?" she asked him when he turned around and gave her a reproachful look "Get inside Khushi" he said as Khushi looked at him in bewilderment and irritation
"What? Who are you to tell me...?" she started saying when Arnav left the man's shirt, but not before giving him a look that probably chilled him to his bones as he grabbed khushi's hand and dragged her inside...for a second Khushi did not register what was happening as Arnav walked inside the house and then towards her room as she struggled to free her wrist of his strong grip
"Arnav! What is wrong with you? Are you on drugs or something?...leave me!" she shouted as Smitha came running outside only to see Arnav push Khushi inside her room before slamming the door shut "Do you even know what that guy was doing Khushi? Who the hell wears such clothes in front of strangers and struts around in the garden? Don't you have any sense?!" he said, still angry at the way that man was eyeing khushi
"Oh, Hello! Who are you to tell me what to wear and what not to huh? And what do you mean? What were they doing?" she asked him as he ran a frustrated hand through his hair "Khushi, that man was looking at you...at...at...you!" he said his hand gesturing towards her whole self...she looked down at her legs bare from just above her knees and her loose t-shirt that kept slipping off her shoulders
Ok, maybe he had a point...but who was he to lecture her! "I know what i'm wearing...these are comfortable work clothes alright?! And seriously why should it bother you!...I can handle myself ok! If he was doing such a thing, I would have knocked him out by now" she said, her voice full of false bravado as Arnav pursed his lips
"Fine! Sorry I was worried about your dignity...you are right, I have no place in telling you what to do and what not to...so...fine!...do whatever you want!" he said as he turned to leave while Khushi's shoulders drooped with sudden tiredness...he was trying to protect her and she was she acting like a pricey b***h...she quickly went and held the door as he he stepped out
"I'm sorry Arnav...I went too far there...thanks for looking out for me...but I've always been doing that for myself...so it was a bit odd when..." she said as Arnav's relaxed his angry stance...he sighed as he looked at her biting her lower lip...shit! Don't do that! He mentally tried to communicate to her and it seemed to work as she quickly stopped and looked up into his eyes, making his heart once again beat in anticipation and need
"I...Khushi..." he said as she nodded and said a soft "I know..." she said as he said "We need to talk" at the same time...they both gulped wondering what the other would say...but the way Arnav kept his gaze away from her spoke of only one thing...he regretted it...she knew it...and it hurt
So she did the first thing that came to her mind...she took a deep breath and blurted everything in one breath "Last night was a mistake and it will never happen again" she said as Arnav looked on shocked at her...her face deep red as her she tried to meet his gaze "Thats what you were going to say right?" she said as Arnav went speechless for a minute...he knew that the ultimate goal of his talk was to stop this thing right here...but he never in a million years felt that she regretted it...hell, it did not look like it last night...but if this is what she wanted, then fine
"Yes, you are absolutely right...I'm glad its mutual" he said in a gruff voice as she nodded slowly, not really understanding the tone of his voice as she kept wondering how easily he agreed to it...they both wanted to say so much more, but Smitha's voice called out, breaking the awkward silence between them "Babyji...the helpers went away...they said they had some other work...should I call someone else to help?" she asked as she warily looked between Arnav and Khushi
"Uh...No, that won't be necessary...most of the work is nearly done anyways" she said as Arnav looked away... "I...uh...have to go..." she said as arnav nodded "Listen...I hope this won't make things weird between us" he said as she gave him a quick smile and shook her head "No...no, it won't...what happened was very unexpected...these things happen Arnav...besides i'm leaving in a few days...so I mean..." she said as Arnav suddenly felt an ache in his chest
"You are?" he asked her as she nodded slowly "Yeah...just the exterior painting and restoration is left...we should be able to finish it in four to five days...after which...there is really no point in staying back here...I need to get back to work too" she said as Arnav frowned "But how can you paint when its raining?" he asked trying to get a reason for her to prolong her stay...why Raizada!?
"This is coorg...it rains here half the year...but the rain last night was very unexpected...it won't happen again" she said as arnav tried to find similarities in her words to their situation "I should go...see you later" she said as Arnav stepped away to let her pass...he looked on forlornly as she slowly made her way to the living room and out of the house to finish her work
It hurt that she regretted last night...it hurt that she was leaving in a few days and he probably will never see her again...it hurt that whatever it was between them...that excitement and anticipation ended so abruptly...so final. And even though he wanted exactly this to happen...the fact that it happened...hurt.