Five Times

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Chapter 9

Lara swayed the door open and when she took her first step, she was puzzled. She heard some hushing sounds that came from inside the room. She suddenly reversed her steps from the door, maintaining a safe distance.

Who is there in the closed room?

She didn’t want to take the risk as she had enough to already worry about. So, she let the door as it was and thought of reporting it at the reception. When she turned to walk away from the room, her wrist was grabbed from behind and she was pulled inside the room all of a sudden.

“Ahhhhhh!!! Leave me! Who are you?” Lara snapped not knowing who the hell had pulled her in.

The jerk of the pull was so intense that made her glitch and she felt drowsy. Her legs danced on the floor making her lose her balance. Luckily, she got hold of the chair that was beside her and took deep breaths. She then rubbed her eyes to have a clear vision around her. She rolled her eyes on all the corners of the room without moving a little. But, she could picture out no one in the room.

Am I imagining things? No no…I am sure that someone pulled me in. Then who is it? No one is here.

Only then she noticed the change in the room. When Lara first opened the door, the room was all bright and glowing with lights. But now, the fan and the lights in the room were all still. The room looked dull. Clearly, she didn’t switch off any of them.

Am sure there is someone here.

She was nervous and her eyes were already getting wet. Out of fear, she grabbed the chair as tight as she could until she got her palms hurt. She exhaled and inhaled with great difficulty.

Getting some courage from nowhere, she adjusted her throat and asked with the shaking voice, “Who…who are you? Please... come?”

No response.

Now, she was highly afraid of the stranger and she was already sweating like anything. She once again rolled her eyes all over and decided to leave the room before anything bad happens. She hurriedly took her bag and turned to leave the room. But even before she could start, she stopped. She froze at the same place with widened eyes.

The pair of shoes behind the curtains of the windows caught her attention. The curtains were waggling that confirmed the motion behind it. She analyzed the figure standing behind the screen and she couldn’t get any clear view of that figure. But she could be sure that it was a male.

Why would he hide like this, if he had no wrong intentions?

She rapidly picked a pen from her bag and made sure that the nib was sharp enough to defend her. She placed her bag back on the chair and she slowly watched her steps towards the curtain, making sure her scandals didn’t make much noise. She neared the curtain and she stood at arms distance from the screen. She heaved heavily and gripped the pen tightly with her right hand.

After a couple of minutes of struggling with her fear, she finally raised her left hand and extended it towards the curtain. Her heartbeat fastened.

She squeezed her eyes tightly, gripped the pen. The moment she touched the screen, with no delay, she swept the curtain off and ran the sharp nib straight towards him. There was an awkward silence. Lara’s eyes were closed and her head down. She could feel the grip in her right wrist that made her loosen the grip on the pen. Lara slowly raised her head and opened her eyes to face the life-threatening dare.

The grip on her wrist slowly loosened and the pen fell on the floor making a cluttering noise when she saw the man standing in front of her. She was paralyzed on seeing him. Her eyes, with tears, already flowing down, spread, and she couldn’t believe that it was for real. She extended her hand and touched his cheeks. And yes, he responded with a smile.

He then held out his hands asking for a hug, uttering in a soft and soothing voice, “Happy birthday my dear, Lara,”

“JAMES!!!!!!! You……” she couldn’t talk more. Her throat choked. She rightly rushed into his arms and all she could do was, just cry his name out. She buried her face in his chest and sobbed uncontrollably.

He could understand her condition well and he didn’t stop her. Rather, he let her cry her heart out and just wrapped his arms around her, pressing his lips against her head.

Once Lara’s sob subsided a little, he cupped his palms around her face and made her star straight at his eyes. The two pairs of eyes were overflowing with emotions. They stood still staring at each other, talking through their eyes (the ever best language to express love) forgetting every other thing.

James then leaned forward and kissed her on her forehead. Lara closed her eyes, letting the tears rush down her chin. And his lips traveled all through her face making her moan with pleasure. They didn’t talk much for almost an hour, other than hugging and kissing each other under the bed covers.

Finally, the time had come to let the secret out. Lara couldn’t wait anymore to hear it. So she blurted out. “Now, tell me, how did you get out of the bars? When did that happen? Do you know? The lawyer didn’t tell me anything! Is this all your plan to not let me know anything? You wanted to surprise me on my birthday, this way?”

James was silently listening to her questions with a gracious smile.

“Where is my bag?” shouted Diya that attracted everyone’s attention.

“Why are you shouting Diya? It is here nah?” Abi pointed towards the Barbie doll bag.

“Not this one. The trolley which had my dress is missing,” Diya squealed at the top of her voice.

“Don’t shout Diya. Let’s search it,” said Saritha with an angry look in her face, warning Diya to control her voice.

“No… I had many new dresses there in the trolley. It was missing.” Now Diya had started sobbing.

“Don’t cry unnecessarily Diya.” Abi tried to comfort the little girl.

At the same time, Prasanth came out of the restroom and asked what had happened.

On knowing about Diya’s trolley, he said, “Hey! I forgot to tell you. As the boot of our taxi was full, I gave Diya’s trolley to Adhi.”

“I hope it was there in their room,” he said and looked at Diya who was smiling innocently.

“Okay, then I will go, get it,” said Diya excited and started to move. But a sharp gaze stopped her.

Diya turned to look at Abi, who was glaring at her. Diya remembered her warning at the airport. She then hung her head down and said, “Sorry Abi. You go and get it.”

“What!! Me? Ask your mom to get it” said Abi.

Ahana had gone out just before this incident and Diya had no other way but to force Abi on it.

“Please, Abi, get it for me,” Pleaded Diya.

“Abi, what’s there in getting a bag? Go, get it.” Saritha ordered her.

Even though she wanted to get Diya her trolley, she feared to face Adhi once again.

“Why can’t you go, Ma,” Abi asked looking at her mom.

“My legs are paining Abi,” her mom said and massaged her knee with the worried face.

“It’s okay Abi. I will go.” said her dad to which Abi refused all of a sudden. She didn’t like her dad apologizing to Bharat earlier in the airport and now she didn’t want to make her dad thank them.

“Okay, I am going,” she said and fastened her steps towards their room. She rang the bell and she was nervous because she expected Adhi to open the door.

But to her surprise, the door flung open and it was Adhi’s dad, Bharat, smiling at her. A great sense of relief hit her.

“Hey, Abi, please come in,” Bharat greeted her in and she obeyed instantly.

She rolled her eyes all over the room, but Adhi couldn’t be spotted. She sighed in ease.

“Come Abi. Sit,” said Reka.

“Hmm….It’s okay aunty… Diya’s bag…”

“Yeah... It was here” Reka said with a jerk. She took the trolley and handed it back to Abi.

“Thanks… ahmmm....we are getting the things arranged in the room. So I will come after some time. Bye…” Abi said and rushed out of the room. She didn’t want to give them a chance to start a formal conversation.

Abi was finally happy that she didn’t get an embarrassing situation. But it was really hard for Abi to accept the fact that a part of her heart wanted to see Adhi. She dragged the trolley across the floor, with her mind recalling his black eyes. Suddenly her eyelashes stopped fluttering. She saw two figures standing at a distance in the porch. She couldn’t take her eyes back from glancing at them.

Ahana and Adhi were standing in the porch and talking to each other. Ahana was sharing everything with Adhi that had happened in the flight. She looked too worried about Abi.

“I think it will be tough to change Abi,” said Ahana with a disappointed look.

Adhi turned towards Ahana. The moment he turned his face, he didn’t miss to see Abi who had stormed into the room just after seeing him.

He tilted his head towards the right and let out a tight-lipped smile.

“I agree with you, sissy. It will be tough, but not impossible” Adhi said with his eyes still fixed at the place, from where Abi had just disappeared.

Ahana saw the teeming confidence in Adhi that had tripled the respect she had towards him.

Back in the room, Abi cursed herself for committing the same mistake again.

“Why am I feeling strange whenever I look into his eyes? What is there in those eyes?” Abi immersed herself in her own thoughts.

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