Chapter 19

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                     Mehek was rashly dumping all her belonging into the suitcase. Tears had no intention to retrain from adorning her cheeks but she didn't care. Her endurance had reached its pinnacle and she was sure that another moment with Shaurya, will drive her crazy. She managed to close her suitcase after stuffing it with most of her luggage and discarded the remaining. Once she dragged her suitcase and reached the hall, she found him alone & lost but decided to go ahead confidently. "Mehek, what are you doing?", he asked her anxiously. "Leaving. I will deposit the compensation amount in your account by tomorrow", she told boldly, without halting her tracks. He dashed to stand before her, "Please calm down Mehek. Don't take decisions in haste". When she smirked at him and didn't show any sign to listen, he spoke again, "it is really late and not safe". "The only danger I perceive is you, Mr Shaurya Khanna. A man who threatened to take away my child", she snapped at him. Her words pierced his heart like a sharp dagger yet he was guilty as charged. It was fair for her to hurt him as he had done the worse. In his anger, he lost his chance with her. He was too ashamed to even face her or let alone apologize to her. But if he failed to refrain her from leave, she may get into trouble. "Please don't be impulsive and harm yourself. If you are afraid of my presence, then I will stay outside the house for the whole night ", he tried to reason with her. "Why should you suffer, Mr Khanna? You are the owner for this huge house. I should be the one leaving", she was adamant. "Mehek, please look outside. It is really dark and looks like a storm is coming", he pointed it out. "It is nothing compared to the tempest in me, Shaurya. You have managed to break me completely", she sobbed softly but composed herself quickly. She tried to walk away but he grabbed her arm and requested again, "Mehek, please sit and think calmly for a second". Despite her protests, he softly pushed her to nearby couch. He was gentle but forceful to keep her in position. To Mehek's utter dismay, her petite frame was not a match against him. She became restless and glanced away from him although he tried his best to make her comfortable. "I will not be your prisoner. You cannot force yourself on me", she shouted at him. He was aghast by her accusation but before he could reason, his phone rang. In reflex, they both looked at the handset and read the name displayed on its screen.

"Perfect timing", Mehek smirked and mocked him,  "Don't mind me , Mr. Khanna. It is unfair on your love". Mehek sat back on her seat and placed her leg over the other knee. Her body language challenged him. He attended the call, nevertheless he surprised her by keeping the speaker on so that Mehek could listen vividly. "Hi Shaurya...", a weak voice came from other side. "Hi Shruti. What's up?", Shaurya tried to be cheerful. "They admitted me and informed that treatment will start immediately. All thanks to you, it all went smoothly", her words made Mehek curious. "Anything for my dear Friend", Shaurya made it clear. "How's Mehek and your baby? If my health was better, I would have come to visit Mehek. Convey my regards to her. And do send me the baby pics", she told earnestly. Shaurya agreed yet they both could hear Shurti's sobs when she talked again, "I wish I will be able to see your child". "You will be, Shurti. Be positive. You are in best hands", he gave her confidence, "trust me, I am sure you will one of those Aunts who will spoil my child with lots of gifts", he tried to lighten the mood. They heard her soft laugh and gentle voice again, "Thanks for everything. You, Uncle, Vicky and Nehal stood by my side when I was lost. I promise I will never stop fighting", she sighed, "I will pray that Mehek will have a save pregnancy and give birth to healthy baby. Bye Shaurya". The call was disconnected. An awkward silence fell between the couple. Eachone waited for other to make the next move.

"Cancer. Preliminary stage", eventually Shaurya spoke,"She was unable to cope with the adverse effects of treatment. Her fiance left her and her career was doomed. Her body and beauty took a toll so she decided to quit and die. Shruti's parents were helpless to convince her. Finally me and Nehal had to pitch in and forcefully bring her to Khanna mansion. It was not an easy task". Mehek recalled the day when he had missed the appointment for her scan and she found Shruti at Khanna mansion. She felt a bit embarrassed about her outburst, still blamed it on Shaurya as he could have told her earlier. As if reading her mind, he explained, "It was too personal for Shurti and I felt it inappropriate to disclose it". "Not to forget that you wanted to relish pleasure of tormenting me with Shruti as bait", Mehek accused him. His head hung in guilt, "May be in the beginning. But today I was helpless. I had to rush. I couldn't waste any time as she was on verge of suicide. I had to rush as Nehal or Vicky were unable to control her. I planned to tell you everything once I reach back". Her resentment boiled down a bit as she was able to see his side.

Soon Mehek laughed sarcastically and Shaurya looked at her being confused. "We are perfectly imperfect for eachother", she continued to laugh and he frowned. "We both are good at blaming and punishing one other. Love, respect and understanding has no place amidst us", she told him. "I agree", he accepted and it was Mehek's turn to feel disappointed , "we never gave ourselves a chance to understand us", he came beside her, "yet I know we ardently love eachother". Mehek looked deeply into his eyes but didn't utter a word. "Marry me, Mehek", he proposed abruptly. "Why suddenly, Shaurya? Is it pity? or obligation?", she asked him. He shook his head and wanted to clarify but she cut him midway. "I won't marry you", she rejected him firmly. Mehek stood up and walked few steps away from him, "And don't ask me why". He didn't move yet his eyes asked the same question she had denied. She kept palm over her mouth to silence her sobs, "I am scared, Shaurya. If you break me again, I will be lost. So don't try to convince me". He sighed and nodded. Even he knew that it was too optimistic to expect her forgiveness. "I need space. Still I cannot promise you anything, not even friendship", she spoke honestly, "All I could offer you is the chance to be part of our child's life. That too as long as you wish for it. You are not bound by responsibility or pity. You are free if you want. I am confident to play both parents for my child". "I have no doubt that you will be the best for our child. Yet if you allow, I want to be part of our child's world", he was on verge of tears. Mehek drew a deep breath and nodded. Shaurya took her suitcase and walked towards her room. "I will leave soon, Shaurya. It's toxic for me to live under same roof with you", she wanted him to know it. "I understand", he told nonchalantly.

Next morning, Mehek woke up late. It was tough for her to sleep after the events of last night. When she came to kitchen, Shaurya was already pouring himself a cup of coffee. "Good morning, Mehek", he greeted her cheerfully yet it was strained. He offered her some coffee but she refused. From his attire, she understood that he was ready to go outside. "I will make breakfast", she tried to escape but he forbid. "It's okay, Mehek. I was just waiting for you to wake up", he informed her. She was a bit perplexed. "In best interest of our child and your health, it is better that I stay away. So I decided to leave you in peace", he informed her. Although she wanted his absence, Mehek felt abandoned. 

"Why should you go? This is your house", she ranted. "Not anymore", he smiled. He opened his briefcase to pull out few legal documents and gave it to her. Mehek read through it and gasped. "I don't want it. I was never after your money", she was offended. He smiled again, "You cannot refuse it, Mehek. Bcoz I have transferred this house to our child's name and kept you as the appointee". Mehek got vexed, "But...". He kept his forefinger on her lips to silence her. "Please, Mehek. This is the least I could do for my daughter", he appealed to her. May be his touch or his care or the way he addressed their child as daughter, she didn't know where to pin but she felt weak and vulnerable. She had to accept it. Perhaps this was the last time she will see him. May be this is his parting gift. 

Tear threatened to fall but she adamantly held them back. "Manju and Shankar Chacha will continue their services under my payroll. Unless you want them fired, please don't argue about it", he told cleverly. He had put Mehek in a difficult position. She knew it well that how much a well-paying job meant for Manju and her family. She sighed and gave in. As she stood bewildered, he came beside and peck her forehead. "I love you, Mehek", he told her affectionately. He rubbed her belly softly and spoke to his child, "Pappa loves you. Be a good girl and don't give tough times to your mother. She is the best". Mehek breathed deeply and stepped back. "Goodbye Shaurya", Mehek bid farewell but he chose not to reply. He wore his shades to hide tears and tried to smile at her. As Shankar Chacha drove him away, Mehek stood beside the door and looked on until he disappeared from her line of sight.


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