A million words were left unspoken between two lovers, heartbroken. The distance was not the issue and love certainly was not lacking. But something held both Ram and Priya back, something very unnatural. He wanted to hold her in his arms just as badly as she needed to be held. However, she stood distant and he remained cold, both adamant on their own perspectives.
“Why can’t she just make this right?” Ram revved his engine, hoping to elicit a reaction from Priya.
“Why can’t Ram just understand that I never doubted his love? Why should I clear a suspicion that doesn’t even exist to begin with?” She thought to herself teetering between the fading fine lines of sadness and annoyance. Priya could feel his piercing gaze on her. From the moment that Ram had sat in his car she knew he was watching her intently in the reflection of the rearview mirror. That knowledge was like a double-edged sword of sorts, flattering and upsetting, a confusing mix of two opposite emotions. His unwavering gaze on Priya made her feel special. But at the same time she was hurt by the fact that Ram didn’t care enough to make an effort.
Brushing aside her ego Priya made the first move. Walking to the car, she got in and sat beside him, slamming the door shut. Ram sat up straight in his seat, slightly surprised. He shouldn’t have been, this was exactly what he had wanted. But there was something in her demeanor that he detected, which left him feeling uncertain of her intentions. Undoubtedly, Ram craved to hear her voice in redemption. And just as he had wished, she finally spoke, neglecting his ardent gaze, “Take me home. I want to go home.”
There she was, clutching her purse, enraged. With an expression on her face as lethal, if not more than, any weapon known to mankind.
“Tread carefully man.” Ram’s ego offered scraps of wisdom before its cowardly exit.
“I thought you had left.” Ram stated unable to hide the unusual sense of relief that her presence had provoked within him.
“I was on my way out.” She retorted with a subtle sass in her tone that was elevated by an unmistaken hint of rage.
“I am glad I caught you then.” Taking a few awkward and abrupt steps towards her Ram continued eagerly, aiming to lessen the burden of guilt on his shoulders. “Listen Priya, I wanted to apologize for…”
“Just stop it Mr. Kapoor.” She interrupted catching him off-guard. “How many times are you going to apologize only to make the same mistakes again? Quite frankly, I’m tired of it!”
“No this time I am serious Priya. I wanted to apologize since last night.” There was actual truth in his words but to her ears it was all gibberish.
“Nonsense,” Was her only thought as she shook her head in disbelief. “How can a man be so full of it?”
Ram continued to ramble, taking full advantage of her peculiar silence. “Listen, I really am sorry for everything that I have ever said or done. I know it may be hard but you have to trust me just this once. At first I was out to get revenge for Sid and Sheena. I didn’t know that he was alive or that she was using me. But when I found out that he was alive I should have been thankful instead I was jealous because I couldn’t do anything for him. I was hurt because he didn’t reach out to me for help but he relied so heavily on you. —And… about last night.” Ram paused for a second wetting his dry lips quickly. He watched nervously as the expression of rage on her face-hardened and her eyebrows scrunched in curiosity at the mention of last night. “I wasn’t actually going to do anything. I mean… I was just playing around. Of course I shouldn’t have but still…I did. And I was wrong. I am sorry Priya… I really am. For tricking you into signing the marriage papers, for kissing you, for getting into bed with you last night, for taking jabs at your character. For everything… ”
Ram’s burdened conscious heaved a slight sigh of relief following his overdue apology.
Unable to decipher whether his words held any ounce of truth, Priya analyzed Ram from head to toe hoping to come across a shred of evidence, which would suggest that his apology was nothing more than a cleverly presented charade. But before she could probe further on the subject a familiar, stern voice surfaced from the direction of the open doorway behind Ram. In one swift pivot Ram turned around, coming face to face with Sudhir. The look on Sudhir’s face was icy cold; fitting for a father who had just overheard the hardships his beloved child had silently endured. Priya was baffled by her father’s presence; she could read the hurt hidden beneath the rage in his eyes. The fact of the matter was that she kept Ram’s wrongdoings bottled up. And even though it was a sacrifice, which she had made for the sake of her family; at the end of the day she had, for the first time, kept her struggles a secret from the only man whom she trusted blindly, her father.
“Papa…” She stated the obvious in a tone, which lacked its usual composure in his presence.
“Whatever he just said…” Sudhir questioned Priya, his gaze fixed on Ram like a dart on a target. “Is it true?”
Priya gulped before stammering out a response. “Yes…Papa…It is true. But it’s not as bad as it sounds.” It was as though Priya’s words had no effect on him.
Sudhir’s blood boiled, but being the reasonable man that he was, he somehow managed to remain calm as he propped the package he had in his hands on top of the foyer table to the side of the entrance.
“Priya let’s go.” He ordered in a tone as stern as the unchanged expression on his face.
Ram and Priya were equally surprised by Sudhir’s composure. Surely there must have been a storm lurking behind his uncharacteristic silence. They both quickly exchanged nervous glances as Priya made her way to the door, following her father’s command. As they turned to leave Ram remained frozen knowing he had to stop Priya but equally aware of the fact that nothing he said now would make a difference. He had screwed it all up. This one was from every angle in every way, on his ego.
Just as Sudhir wrapped his fingers firmly around the faux glass doorknob, a tired voice bounced with much effort off the walls in the foyer.
“Sudhir? My son… Are you going to leave without meeting me?”
The concern upon seeing Ram’s Dada-ji standing in the hallway with the support of his frail wife was shared amongst Ram, Priya and Sudhir.
“Can’t we just sit and talk for a moment and…” Dada-ji suddenly began coughing unable to finish his sentence. Both Ram and Sudhir rushed to his side.
“Sir the doctor ordered bed rest. Why are you walking about?” Sudhir questioned trying his best to sound assertive without being disrespectful.
“Yes Dada-ji… Why are you doing this?” Ram added as they walked his Dada-ji towards the sofa in the living room. Dadi waddled behind them rightfully panicked and distressed. She cursed herself for giving into her husband’s request to get out of the room. But what could she have done? It’s not like if she had denied helping him up he would have remained in his bed like he was supposed too. After all stubbornness is the Kapoor family hallmark of authenticity, so to speak.
“Priya grab the medication will you.” Sudhir shouted back as they entered the living room.
“What a turn of events.” Priya couldn’t help but to think amidst the chaos. Even for a moment Ram and Sudhir had put their differences aside, finally finding common grounds.
Ram glared angrily at Priya who had just requested to be dropped home. She could sense his strong emotions without him ever needing to speak. It was a gift, which was quite convenient in their relationship. Although Ram was stellar in many aspects of his life, expressing his feelings had always been a weakness, which he had never bothered to improve upon.
“No fucking way!” Ram cursed, blatantly turning her down.
“Fine!” Unbuckling her seat belt Priya loosely tugged at the door handle hearing the faint click as it gave, announcing her exit. “Beats me!” She shrugged. “I’ll just take a cab to the airport then.” Surprised by his inaction, Priya stepped out of the car with ease. However, barely into her second step away from the vehicle she felt his familiar firm grip around her arm. His mere touch was like a hit of ecstasy, hurling her heart into a race against itself and warming her up from the inside out. “That was fast.” She thought, trying her best to understand exactly how Ram had managed to get out of the car with such speed. But before Priya could come up with an explanation she found herself propped across his shoulder like a sack of potatoes being carried back into the house against her will.
“Ram put me down this instant… I mean it Ram… Put me down… Dammit Ram I am not a child you can’t just manhandle me like this… I said put me down.”
It was evident that Ram was a man on a mission making it a task to ignore her many objections. Treading up the last few steps Ram entered the bedroom. Striking the door shut with his foot he finally gave into her demands propping her figure on the floor like a mannequin. The distaste of being manhandled was clearly painted in the expression on her face.
“What the hell is wrong with you Ram?” Priya shouted at him while smoothing the freshly formed crinkles in her saree with the brush of her palms.
“Serves you right!” Ram hissed as he grabbed hold of her arms pinning her against the door. “You know just how much I hate the thought of you leaving me yet somehow you always manage to squeeze that in as a threat whenever we argue. Why?”
“Ouch…Ram…” She moaned squirming to break free from his unrelenting grip. “Please… You’re hurting me.” Those three words, and of course I love you, had a way of working like magic each time it passed her lips. And this time was no different. Ram loosened his hold around her arms, slowly setting her free almost as though he was unsure of his decision to ultimately let her go.
“What is it about you that drives me so insane? I never used to be like this.” Ram confessed, without an ounce of fear in his voice.
“It’s because you love me you crazy man.” She stated in a tone saturated in attitude. Soothing her arms where Ram had held her, Priya noticed his lips quiver into a subtle grin.
Very charmingly Ram began moving towards her with his grin appearing more sinister the closer he got. “And you? What about your love?”
“It goes without saying.” Priya stammered as her back finally kissed the closed doors, alerting her of the obvious dead end.
“But I want to hear you say it. I want to hear you say I love you…” Gliding his arms around her waist Ram had Priya exactly where he wanted her. And at that point, it was no secret what his intentions were; she could read the script clearly in his lustful gaze. Feigning control over her untamed feelings for him Priya made an attempt to break free. “Ram choro na… please… ” Priya’s unconvincing plea was met by the exact opposite. Whispering a quick, “shhh…” against her lips Ram kissed Priya tenderly almost as though to confirm her silence.
All that was left of her strength crumbled to mush the moment their lips collided. And as always nothing else mattered in that moment, which was only theirs to cherish. Without so much as a thought Priya wrapped her arms loosely around his neck for support as she ran her fingers up the back of his head and through his freshly gelled hair. The wet strands of his hair sent a shiver down her spine immediately. It was the thought of the earlier shower they shared mingled in with the taste of Ram’s warm lips working fervently against hers, which had Priya melting in his embrace. Splaying his fingers on her buttocks Ram pulled Priya into the caress of his body emphasizing his need in case a passionate kiss wasn’t clear enough for her. She moaned in his mouth when their bodies softly smacked as they came together. Ram was frantic in his approach to loving her. There was no predicting his next move and that for Priya was magic. Not knowing and just feeling a gush of sensations as it rushes through your veins. Breathlessly, Ram pecked the corner of her mouth, creating a trail of kisses down the arch of her neck. “I love you Ram.” She managed to whisper focusing on each word. “I love you so much.”
“Then why did you want to leave?”
“I knew you would never let me go.”
“What?” He looked at her confused.
Composing herself Priya leaned against the door unable to stand. Exhaling deeply she explained, “Because Ram you said that I doubted your love. So I said I wanted to leave. I trusted your love Ram. I knew you loved me too much to let me leave.”
Combing his fingers through his hair Ram shook his head in utter shock. “Jesus Priya. How could you do this to me? Do you have any idea how scared I was?”
“What? Is this supposed to be my fault?” Finally regaining composure Priya stood up straight with her hands on her hips. “You’re the one who wanted proof and that’s exactly what I gave you.”
Heaving a sigh of relief Ram teased his wife. “There are so many different ways you could have gone about this. Drama queen.”
“Really Ram? I’m dramatic?” She probed in complete denial of his presumption. “It was not too long ago that you carried me up the stairs against my will like a madman. A simple no Priya you’re not going anywhere would have sufficed.”
“Yeah I am a madman.” Ram moved slowly towards Priya, his intent clear as day.
“Ram don’t you dare.” She raised her index finger in protest moving backwards. However it was too late, Ram had already made up his mind. Once again she found herself across his shoulders. Although Priya knew that changing his mind was a lost cause she still moped in an attempt to persuade him. “Ram… please… Choro na… okay… I am sorry baba…I swear I wont ever talk about leaving you again…not even to make a point…” Not bothered by her demands Ram slapped her buttocks with his free hand. “Ram,” She moaned his name loudly feeling the subtle sting on her backside. It was strange, he had never done that before but for some reason she was aroused by his boldness. “That’s your punishment for even joking about leaving me, Mrs. Kapoor.” Ram stated with a naughty grin on his face, knowing very well that she enjoyed his every move. That knowledge was definitely stiffening. God he loved her with all his heart and to have those feelings reciprocated by Priya was a blessing that he didn’t dare take for granted. Perhaps that’s why the lingering reality of separation was too large of a pill for either one of them to swallow, it was something well beyond their control. Shrugging aside his insecurities Ram tossed Priya into the soft embrace of the plush king sized mattress. Climbing on top of her with lightening speed Ram pinned her beneath his large frame. She gulped as he inched closer to her lips. “Ram, it’s so beautiful out.” Priya spoke timidly, averting his intense, lustfully driven gaze.
Right before he kissed her, Ram whispered against her lips, sending her over the edge. “Nothing is more beautiful than this.”