They drove for a while till they reached the outskirts of the city… Ria was euphoric and probably the happiest in her life. The long drive was spent in stealing glances and subtle touches which were arousing her and from what he saw Gaurav was uncomfortable in his seat too! They discussed playlists and while he loved retro Bollywood, she preferred A R Rahman over R D Burman. Their light banter soaked by her giggles and at times his throaty laughter was something she would cherish all her life…
They stopped outside a bungalow, so beautiful, Ria’s eyes were wide in their sockets. The two storied bungalow was surrounded by thick growth of trees and there was something what looked like acres of woods behind it. The gentle breeze lifted her spirits further along with her hair and for once she wanted to let her guard down… and become unruly like her locks. There wasn’t any other residence close by and Ria wondered where they were. After they got out of the car, she saw Keith and the other bodyguard come up to them. Gaurav handed over the keys of an outhouse which was apparently behind the bungalow, to Keith and instructed something while she strolled towards the flower garden along the pathway to the house. Oh… her favourite roses and marigold… really…? She had taken quite a few tutorials on gardening from Keith and she tried to figure out the probable process involved in the beautifully fragrant piece of work. Gaurav called out to her and Keith waited till Gaurav and Ria entered the bungalow and activated the alarm.
Ria scanned her surroundings as she stepped into what looked like a set of a film studio… the interior of the drawing room was chic and contemporary and she was transferred to another fantasy world. The entire interior of the bungalow was painted white with blend of pastel shades and filled with appropriate furniture. It was a stunning amalgamation of colour and texture contrast. There was a huge dining table at one end and she saw there were vessels placed along with the cutlery. Gaurav hugged her from behind startling her and breathed into her ears…the gesture was now turning into her favorite one. “This is my friend’s bungalow. He has lent it to me till tomorrow. It’s well stocked.” he said
She turned in his arms and looked up at him. “But…I haven’t carried any spare clothes…” she said as she moved her hands upwards towards his shoulders. He held her hands and said, “Don’t worry about clothes …you won’t need them …for what I have in mind.”
She was so shy she buried her head in his chest. Laughing he hugged her back and kissed her head. Soon they went to the first floor and he showed her two adjacent rooms. “This is your room and this is mine.” He said waving his hands at the door. What? Separate rooms? After all they had shared? Ria wondered. But she didn’t say anything as she didn’t want to ruin the melancholy called her mood. She stepped inside her room while he retreated into his as she heard his door close. She looked around taking in the interiors…It was beautiful. The windows had floor length curtains drawn over them which gave a cozy finish to the room. There was a huge four poster bed and a love seat at its foot. But now, instead of feeling elated she was utterly disappointed. Of all the things this wasn’t what she had expected. She wanted Gaurav here with her. Suddenly she felt determined as her agitated mind settled to a warm comfort and she left the room. She knocked at his door… twice. But there was no response… was he in the washroom? She wondered if she should knock again or wait for him when she heard faint voice rising in intensity intermittently. She hated to eves drop but the curiosity in her couldn’t be contained and she strained to hear. It sounded like a phone conversation so she could only partially hear Gaurav speaking.
“… No… No… I do not need it…”
“…Why…? What the fuck…? No… I said No… I stand by my decision. And you can go ahead and do what you want…”
“…Oh really… tell you what…? I don’t care… not anymore…Fine…let it come… I will face that as well….”
“…I said NO… cant you get that…?…. then don’t…like I said…. I don’t care…”
Then there was silence. Probably the call was over with and Ria was mortified…she had just eavesdropped a private conversation. She turned to go back to her room when Gaurav opened the door with a jerk.
“… Hey…What’s it Ria? You haven’t freshened up? Didn’t like your room?” he asked tucking a strand of hair behind her ears. She saw his hand tremble a slightly and he looked stricken lost in his own universe full of whatever the turmoil he had concealed from her and the world. Ria held his hand and spoke. “…Um…Gaurav. The room is beautiful… but…Why am I put up in a different room? Why can’t we share a room? It’s huge anyways. It’s not that we haven’t….um …I spent last night in your room back home…um….”
Gaurav rubbed his face revealing the fatigued expressions, the usually not so visible scar now declaring its tenacious presence. “Ria…I…I want nothing more than having you in my room. But…I feel we have moved things too soon. You…you should have your space too. Ok…?”
God… he was exasperating “…I don’t want any space Gaurav. I have had enough of that so far. I want to be with you. To know you….I…”
“…lets …just stick to this arrangement alright…?” He abruptly said as his hand hid the side wall then with a stern tone he continued as he looked away. “…Just because we are married, we don’t have to stick together all the time…. I need my space…”.
Ria was shocked to hear that tone of his. She was in tears not because he almost yelled at her but because he was hurting and she could see it but not help him.
“…Gaurav… Are you …Ok…?”
“…Just… go to your room… Ria…” His voice cracked into a whisper as he took her name and rubbed his hand over his face.
She could feel him breathing hard and containing his anger, or frustration or whatever that was. Though he was no longer in prison, the metaphorical jail he had locked himself up into was inaccessible to her. She wanted to shake him… ” Gaurav…I am sorry. But my definition of a married couple who have… consummated their marriage was… that… they shared a bedroom. I guess it was my mistake…. We shouldn’t have come here then… isn’t it…?. You know what…? we should leave…” She abruptly turned towards her room.
In a flash, he held her arm and pulled her towards him. As she resisted, he held her hair with his right hand and her body with his left, turning her towards the wall to trap her. He pulled her hair slightly, so she was forced to look up into his eyes. “…Don’t… you ever do that…Don’t-ever-question-me…I have not wronged anyone… I have always paid debts which weren’t even mine….Don’t… ever doubt my intentions… Don’t…” His eyes were stern slits of black breathing fire… She was trembling with a mixture of sadness and desire. She slowly released her hand trapped between their bodies and pushed him slightly. Suddenly as if out of a trance he left her, with a shocked look on his face and rubbed a hand over his face a little harder this time and looked sullenly mortified. He spoke softly “I am… I am sorry… Ria. That didn’t … come out well…. it’s just…I need my solitude ok…? I can’t… share my room with anyone…. What happened back home was something by chance… it… it won’t happen again…”
Ria looked at him. It broke her heart to see his pained expression. She knew he was just venting out and she was his punching bag… he didn’t even realise he was punishing himself. She was willing to play the role if it could get him to reveal what troubled him so much that it almost turned him into a monster. Though he didn’t actually hurt her, he failed to take the lid off his agonising past and as she walked towards her room wiping her tears, she wondered who it was on the line…
They had a quiet lunch at around 2PM where he had texted her to join and though annoyed, she didn’t want to miss any chance of interacting with him… But they both didn’t mention the earlier incident but their earlier camaraderie from the car drive was lost. They finished their lunch in silence and as they moved towards their rooms, Gaurav said, “Ria… rest a little. I… I will… will come to get you at 7PM….I have…uh… some work to do.” Ria didn’t reply and went into her room shutting the door behind her.
Ria tried to watch TV for a while but she couldn’t focus. She knew yesterday night and today morning… were too good to be true. Her appa always said, all good things come to an end. Well in her case at least, it was true if todays events were anything to go by. She was married to a sphinx, with whom she was way too much in love. She thought about the events of the last few days as she picked up her phone and saw she had received few messages from her friends wishing her on her wedding. But most of them were from Preeti who wrote about her wedding preparations. She wanted to meet Ria one of the days for her wedding shopping and had asked her to revert back.
Ria didn’t know when she had slept off but she woke up startled with a knock at the door woke her up. “Ria… are you awake?” Gaurav called out
Ria checked her mobile phone. It was 7PM. She had slept for at least two hours. She quickly freshened up in her bathroom and opened the door. Gaurav stood with unruly hair, wrinkled t shit and a lost look in his eyes and her heart was breaking to see him like that. Instinctively her hands cupped his face. “…Hey…you really…ok?” She asked softly. He kissed her palms and lowered her hands. He stared at her with an intensity that made her tremble. He turned pulling her after him and before she knew, she was on the second floor. There was only one door as if there was only one room. That was surprising. Gaurav released her hand and took out a key. He unlocked the huge door and went in first. He then slowly turned and held his hand out for her. She smiled and placed her hand in his and together hand in hand they stepped inside the room. It was dark. Gaurav closed the door with his other hand and switched on the lights. Ria was smiling in anticipation till she looked around and her smile fell. That the room was huge… was an understatement. It had red walls. Red? There was a bed with some kinds of ropes hanging from the ceiling above it. Oh God…
Ria’s heart pounded as she looked around. One wall was lined with different kinds of… whips. There were leather belts of different widths. The other wall was lined with shelves with pretty boxes which were locked. Then there were handcuffs from different materials and finally there were blindfold cloths of different textures. The light was dim and gave out an eerie feeling, rising her anxiety levels. She looked up at the ceiling to see it had little mirrors. She was not a novice and read a lot and her curiosity had once made her read about kink. It had felt exciting in print to try out … but when Vikram had tried to get physical that evening, he had spoken about cuffing her to his bedpost… and gagging her… all with his intoxicated and saturated grey matter… And this room reminded her of just that forgettable evening. She shuddered and wrapped her arms around her middle as she began to palpitate.
“Ria…” Gaurav called out to her. “…. You ok?” He sounded concerned.
Ria had enough. She was now angry to the core… she turned and faced him. Breathing heavily with tears running down her cheeks she struggled to scream. “OK…? OK…? You expect me to be OK with…. with…. all this…?” She waved at the area around her. In an angry strangled voice, she continued, “…Who the hell do you think… you are…? Just because I …I… surrendered myself to you…completely… unlike you. It…it gives you… no right … on me… you GOT IT…? You were worried about… things happening too soon between us…weren’t you…? What is all this then…?” She was breathing heavily and crying even as he looked shocked and pained not able to pacify her. “… do you know…Vikram wanted all of this … And you know why…? to control me…That evening … he… forced… I had nightmares for days…I still do…I don’t deserve this…I have emotions and you can’t trample upon them…” She had gone hoarse as she wiped her cheeks. Gaurav now tried to reach her but she moved back towards the door and held up her hands “…No… Don’t touch me… Don’t… I am leaving this place. I can’t…just can’t…” She opened the door and ran out rushing straight into her room as she locked the door. She threw herself on the bed and cried into the sheets…. Her agonising sobs filling the silence of the room…
Gaurav stood stunned in his bedroom… he had heard he sobs when he had come downstairs earlier and didn’t have the guts to knock at the door. What had happened? Ria was always a sport. He thought she trusted him and shared his passion for intimacy. Though she was inexperienced, she had enjoyed everything so far…. even when he was rough. She had matched him with equal vigour in every step of the way. He wanted to share everything with her…eventually even his past. He wanted to introduce her to this world too which had become an integral part of his life. He was sure she would enjoy it too…and he had plans to pleasure her… at least that’s what he had thought. He wanted her in his life …forever and had wanted her to embrace this important part of his life.
But her reaction revealed something else entirely. Was it him or that bastard engaged to her…? He cursed himself for being so dense… He should have taken it slow…given it some more time. But when she had matched his passion…. matched his energy… matched his thrust…. he thought she would accept this too. He was a fool for ruining the most beautiful element of his life. She was the light in his dark life and he felt as if he just extinguished it.
No… He wouldn’t let things hang like this between them. He had to apologize to her. He had to earn back her trust…even if it meant he had to let go this part of his life. It pained him to think about the scenario but not having her in his life… even the very thought was crushing him.
He quickly went to her room and knocked. “…Ria…please open the door…look…I am sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
The door opened and Ria stood there with red swollen eyes as if she had been crying for a while. She looked so vulnerable that he felt the kick to his gut… He touched her face and wiped her cheeks with his thumb. She rushed into his arms and hugged him tight. He was relieved and held her to him as if his life depended on it. He kissed her head and apologized once again. She moved away and looked up into his eyes. She had stopped crying. She smiled and said, “Apology accepted…. shall we go home?”
He nodded. Peace descended over him as a benign smile played over those sensuous lips.
Ria was quiet on the way home and he longed to touch her, to hear her voice. They had dinner at a simple south Indian restaurant and as expected Ria was happy to have her favourite food. Soon the ice broke and they started having small talk and within moments Ria was grinning at him. He was smiling at her anecdotes too.
Giving up that part of his life didn’t seem trouble anymore. He had her. She made up for everything that was wrong in his life… and only hoped she felt the same for him.
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