Chapter 17

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                                   Mehek sighed and watched gloomily at the drizzle. The house seemed extremely quiet and she felt quite lonely. Manju had gone home in the morning to spend few days with her family and Shankar Chacha had left for the day. A week passed since the medical camp and Shuarya still stayed in bungalow even if he had no purpose to do so. It made Mehek wonder why Shaurya hasn't returned back to his life and Shruti. Past days, she could sense that Manju has become an amateur cupid coz she was trying to push her closer to Shaurya whenever latter made an effort. She suspected Manju had known the truth about their past but chose not to ponder. Even though Shaurya tried his best to be charming, she remained stern regarding her decision of not to let him enter her life again. She acted indifferent and never failed to show her irritation at his futile efforts.

Today when Shaurya had left to deal with some official work. Surprisingly, she was unhappy and missed him. She rebuked herself and tried to believe that mood swings were playing trick on her mind. When her phone buzzed displaying an unknown number, she attended it. "Mehek, it's Ajay. How are you?", she heard Ajay's voice on other side. She was a bit annoyed, yet she kept her calm, "Ajay, how did you get my number?". "I have my sources", he chuckled but clearly Mehek was not humoured. "Mehek, we should meet. I need to talk to you", he expressed his wish. Mehek tried to avoid him as much as possible but he was persistent and eventually she had to give in.

"Ajay, you are married", Mehek reminded him. "I am on verge of divorce, Mehek. It was just a compromise as I could never love her", Ajay explained, "You are my love, Mehek. I want to spend my life with you". Mehek shook her head in dismay but he startled her by going on his knees. "Mehek, I was a cowardly fool to let you go. Let me make amends. Please come back to me", he begged her. Tears brimmed her eyes, "It's too late, Ajay". "No , it isn't. I am ready to accept you along with your child. I will try to be best father for your child". Tears spilled over her cheeks. Ajay is a good man although not a brave one. So she knew it was huge step for him to accept her, along with a child not fathered by him. Life was giving her a second chance with the man whom once she loved the most. All she has to do it to extend her hand and grab it. It was supposed to be happiest moment in her life but she lacked joy. Painfully she realised that she no longer possessed same feelings for Ajay. She felt bad to break his heart and decided to deal with him prudently. "Ajay, please get up", she softly pulled his shoulders and made him stand. "Ajay, try to understand. It's really difficult for me to make a decision now. I need to think thoroughly", she chose her words carefully, not to hurt him, "I need time". His face beamed with happiness and she felt guilty for giving him false hope. She was flabbergast, when he abruptly pulled her into his arms. Mehek struggled in his arms while he was lost in his euphoria. "What's going on in here???", a sharp voice startled them and they broke apart. Mehek turned to find Shaurya who was visibly displeased.

Ajay stood before Mehek as if shielding her from Shauya's wrath. He squeezed her palm to give her courage but she grimaced in pain. "Take your hands off my Mehek", Shaurya roared in anger. Mehek was astonished as well as irritated by his sudden claim. But before she could admonish him, Ajay pitched in, "She isn't your wife. You cannot forcefully bind if she chooses to leave you". Shaurya was fuming now and grabbed his collar, "Listen carefully, Dude. You are her past and I am her present. So fu*k off before I lose my cool". Mehek understood that situation will spiral unless she intervenes. She came between them and tried to free Ajay , "Shaurya, leave him". He glared at her but released his hold on Ajay. Mehek turned to Ajay, "Please leave". Ajay breathed hard yet he was not at peace to leave her with Shaurya. "I will call you later. Please leave now", she folded her hands and requested. Ajay accepted his defeat and exited the scene.

Mehek wasn't ready for a confrontation. She tried to escape to her room but Shaurya grabbed her arm and pulled her to him. "Shaurya, what are you doing? Leave me", she was aghast. "Don't act coy, Mehek. You seemed to be pretty comfortable in your ex's arms. Then why do detest my advances?", he taunted her. Mehek jerked herself away from him,"Ajay had no ill intentions".  "Then what about you Mehek?", he was fuming. "Feels funny to hear such accusation from you", she struggled not to spill tears,  "A man who banged his date when I was staying still under the same roof, being pregnant with his child". Her simple yet truthful reply shamed him. He could comprehend the pain he had made her endure in the past. Yet he couldn't digest the Mehek found comfort in Ajay. He took a deep breath to compose himself, "Why was her here, Mehek?". "He came to meet me", she replied sharply. "I need to know the reason", he asked firmly. "That's personal, Mr Khanna and it doesn't concern you", Mehek gave back vehemently. "Ms Mehek Sharma, listen to me as I hate to repeat myself. I will not tolerate your romantic entanglements under my property", he warned her. "Sure Sir. I will keep that in mind for next time", she told him angrily and tried to walk to her room. But Shaurya caught her and pinned her to nearby wall. "There won't be any next time, Mehek. You belong to me. I won't allow any other man in your life. Did you get that?", he shouted at her. Mehek was annoyed and pushed him away. She was about scream at him in frustration but she quickly crouched holding her belly. "Oh my God!", she exclaimed, holding her position.

"Mehek, are you okay? Are you in pain?", concern took over Shaurya quickly. He got anxious as she stayed silent but was perplexed when she smiled suddenly. "Our baby kicked. I felt it now. It's the first kick", she excitedly touched her belly. "Really?", he cried out joyfully and moved his hands towards her stomach slowly. In spur of the moment, she grabbed his palm and kept in on her belly. "Good Heavens, I could feel it", he screamed with excitement when baby kicked again and he felt his child for the first time, "Did you feel it, Mehek?". "Of course silly. It's happening inside by body", she playfully rebuked him. They stayed closer for few more minutes, enjoying the moment. Soon they became aware of eachother and pulled away. It was awkward so Mehek walked to her room. "Mehek, come back to me. It will be good for all. We will be a happy together", his words stopped her trail. "It won't be, Shaurya. We are good being apart", she declared without facing him and shut door of her room.

Shaurya gazed at the solitaire he had bought for Mehek. After events during medical camp, he was constantly haunted by fear of losing Mehek. He tried his best to remain closer to Mehek but was chided away. Eventually he realised that he still loved her and couldn't live without her. He was unable to hide behind excuse of ensuring her protection. He was still afraid to get hurt and tried to avoid being committed to Mehek but he realised that she can only be won over by marriage. Mehek had once broken his heart yet he has to get brave to give themselves another chance. Moreover, he understood he had punished her enough for it. He wanted to let bygones be bygones and lead a happy life with Mehek and their baby. So he had gone out feigning office work to buy a ring. He wanted to propose her and convey her that he truly loves her and wants to marry her. But the scene he witnessed on his return, ruined his entire plan. Yet he couldn't give up. Deep down he knew that Mehek was over Ajay and it was just his desperate efforts to win her back. Shaurya decided to clear all misunderstandings and propose her next morning itself.

Next morning when he came down, Mehek was busy serving breakfast on table. He sat down while she poured tea for him and informed about the dishes prepared for breakfast. She was struggling to keep it professional and was all set to escape to her room. "Mehek", he grabbed her wrist to stop her. He forced her to nearby chair, "I am sorry for last night. But please understand my state when I saw you in that idiot's arms. I couldn't bear it". Mehek sighed and tried to speak but he shushed her. "I know I have done worse to you. But believe me, it pained me more to hurt you. I was heartbroken by your rejection and wanted to take you through the same agony. Yet none of those women meant anything to me and I never had any feeling for them. I really care about you and our baby", he squeezed her palm. Mehek sat silent, unable to react. He was glad that she didn't contradict him and could see past her prejudice. He stood up and touched her shoulders gently, "We can make it work, Mehek. Let's forget our past and move on. Me, you and our baby; our happy family. Can't you atleast give us another chance?". She was shaken by his sudden declaration. She heaved for breath and grabbed the edge of chair while trying to get hold of her feelings. She knew his words melted her anger. It wasn't easy to deny her feelings for him. They both had their share of follies and perhaps it was best to forget them to start afresh. Yet she was unsure and afraid. Sensing her turmoil, Shaurya was about to pull out the ring from his pocket and propose to her. But before he could do so, his phone rang. They both were startled and gazed at his handset which was kept on dining table. Mehek cringed when she read the name displayed on it, 'Shruti'.

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