A Breath of Fresh Air

By sweetarva All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Drama

Chapter Thirteen

Alisha kept a blank expression on her face, grabbed the newspaper from her mother’s hand and read the details of the story.

Our television stars never fail to keep us entertained. And now the latest buzz is that the lead couple of the hit prime time show ‘Cop Diaries’ played by Neil Basu and Nisha Malhotra are dating. Rumor mills are churning since the last couple of days when the duo were spotted getting cozy with each other at a party and were also seen kissing at a restaurant. Our correspondents tried to get in touch with them, but neither Neil nor Nisha were available for comments.

Now whether they are truly dating or it’s a publicity stunt, only time will tell. Watch this space and stay tuned to the latest news in tinsel town!

Alisha noticed the pictures that were mentioned in the article. One showed Neil and Nisha holding hands, and the other showed Neil saying something in a giggling Nisha’s ears.

Alisha sighed and folded the newspaper. She saw that her parents were staring at her in pity and suddenly the mood in the room turned somber.

“We are so sorry beta, such a horrible thing happened to you. How can Neil do such a thing?” Her mom wailed.

“Relax mom, why are you over reacting?” Alisha asked calmly.

“What do you mean by over reacting? Don’t tell me that you are not affected at all. You wait, let him come home, he’ll see my true colors!” Adhira claimed.

Of course Alisha was very badly affected, but she couldn’t let her parents know that, so she had to remain strong. Instead of crying, she simply maintained her stoic expression and said, “Mom, I don’t think there’s any truth to this news. Such things keep happening in their line of work. Don’t assume things just because some gossip newspaper claims it to be true. And Neil is a very honest guy. He wouldn’t keep such a big thing from me. I’m sure he must have had his reasons in doing what he did.”

Alisha felt she was justifying the reasons for herself more than her mother. She got up and went inside her room.

The moment she stepped in the bathroom, the water works started. Outside, she was very calm and composed, but she just couldn’t control her tears and the sadness that she felt the moment she was in solitude.

She herself was feeling confused about the truth. On one hand she felt that Neil was an honest fellow, and on the other, she also knew that he wasn’t committed to her. It was all just an act for her parents. And he was very much a single eligible bachelor to the outside world. But why was she feeling so bothered by all this? He had never considered her anything more than his good friend. So now if he really wants a relationship, and if he has found the girl of his choice, she should be happy for him, right?

But she was just feeling miserable.

With nothing else to do, she decided to call him up and hear the truth from the horse’s mouth. But, he never answered his phone.

Alisha quickly freshened up and went to the kitchen to make some snacks for everyone. She saw her parents talking in hushed tones, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. And they stopped talking the moment they spotted her.

“Alisha, we are going to Aditi’s house. We’ll be back by evening. You take care.” Avinash said clearing his throat.

Adhira gave her a sympathetic smile and hugged her before she left.

Alisha was relieved in a way that she was home alone. But she needed some distraction, otherwise her brain would go into overdrive and she would start imagining things and weaving stories about them before talking to Neil properly. So, she put her favorite movie, ‘Notting Hill’ in the DVD player and got engrossed in watching it.

It was late afternoon, when the doorbell rang.

Alisha was relieved to see Neil and gave him a quick hug. Neil was amused by her behavior and smirked as he said, “My sweet girlfriend was missing me so much! Eh?”

Alisha frowned and said, “My parents are desperately waiting for you.”

Neil gave her a questioning glance to which Alisha fake smiled and said, “To interrogate you, sweet boyfriend.”

“To interrogate me for what?”

“They saw some gossip about you in the newspaper today.”

Alisha crossed her fingers behind her back wishing he would say it wasn’t true.

He went and grabbed the newspaper and after reading the article he muttered, “Seriously, these people have no other work.”

“And what do you mean by that?” She still did not release her crossed fingers.

“That was not supposed to get in the news like that. It’s a personal matter between Nisha and me. Shit! No wonder there were a hundred missed calls on my number today!” He started pacing in the room.

Alisha was shocked on hearing that. All her fears proved to be true. Neil was truly dating Nisha.

She went and plonked down on the sofa and closed her eyes. Just then, Neil came and sat beside her.

“I just can’t believe that these people can capture such a personal moment and splash it all over! Unbelievable!”

Alisha opened her eyes and looked at him urging him to say more.

“You know what, Alisha. We both had signed a no-dating clause before taking up the show. Because when the lead actors start dating, it complicates things a lot. Plus in case they break up, there’s utter chaos on the sets. So our director had made all of us sign the clause that none of us would be dating each other till the show is on.”

Alisha was totally blank as she whispered, “I don’t understand a word of what you are saying Neil.”

Neil sat closer to her and draped his arm over the backrest of the sofa.

“Nisha was telling me about her boyfriend who proposed marriage to her. And in our excitement, we forgot to keep our hands to ourselves. I congratulated her in her ears and she giggled at that; and that picture looked like I was kissing her on her cheeks. She wanted that to be kept strictly private between us and now the whole world will know. Poor Nisha!”

Neil sounded utterly pissed, but Alisha felt relieved and she was doing a happy dance in her head.

She then understood about what Neil was telling regarding their no-dating clause.

“So now, to prove that you both aren’t dating, Nisha will have to bring her fiancé in the picture?” She said.

“Exactly.”

“But, is there no other way out of this?”

“We’ll have to work something out. But one thing is for sure, the TRP’s of the show are going to boost overnight.”

“So, that’s a good thing, right? Your director should be happy.”

“He’s a problem in the neck. He’s very particular about the legal stuff. I don’t think he would listen to our claims.”

Neil started pacing in the living room again muttering about sorting things out as Alisha looked at him with a smile on her face.

She felt like a bitch for being happy in someone else’s misery, but she did not care at that moment. It felt good to be selfish sometimes.

Her parents returned in the evening and Neil explained everything to them as he had promised Alisha.

Her parents were relieved and happy on hearing the truth.

For the next week, Alisha hardly met Neil as he was busy in sorting out the mess that those pictures had created. Neil then told her that they had managed to convince the director and told him about Nisha’s fiancé and even made arrangements for him to meet her fiancé.

A week later, things were back to normal.

It was also time for Alisha’s parents to go back and that would bring an end to their ‘fake’ drama.

She felt doleful, not because her parents were leaving. But, she was in despair as she wouldn’t be meeting Neil that often once her parents left. She secretly hoped and wished that Neil would change his mind and give their friendship a chance to develop into something more. She was tired of guarding her heart now.

On the last day, Alisha went to see-off her parents at the airport.

Teary eyed, her mom said, “We have some good news to share with you.”

“Mom, if you have good news to share then why are you crying?”

Avinash interrupted, “We have decided to shift back here permanently.”

Alisha was momentarily stunned on hearing this.

Her mother continued, “One evening, when you were on your emergency duty, Neil had come to meet us and he told us how much you miss us. And when your father and me sat down and reflected on your upbringing and our careers, we realized that your anger and resentment towards us was justified. We were never there for you whenever you needed us the most. The last incident being your hospitalization two months back.”

Her father added, “I think it’s high time that we spend our remaining days together with you. We’ll try to make up for all that we have missed, sweetheart. We are going to be back in another three months.”

“Oh mom! Oh dad!” Alisha had tears in her eyes as she hugged both of them. “I love you both! And you really don’t have to do this.”

“We have to, Alisha, we have to. It’s a shame that a third person had to make us realize all of this, though my sister kept telling me repeatedly how much you miss us!”

“But, better late than never, right?” Avinash hugged her and laughed.

Alisha laughed too, and wiped her tears before saying her final good byes to her parents. “See you soon mom, dad.”

“See you soon, Alisha.” They both said and left for the security check.

Alisha sighed in happiness and her heart swelled in appreciation for what Neil had done for her. She felt proud to have him in her life and she strongly wished that they would remain friends forever, if not anything more.

With a bounce in her steps and a smile on her face, she headed home.

She opened the door to her house and found a parcel waiting for her near the door. Curious as to what was there inside it, she took it inside and quickly opened it.

When she saw what it was, the smile was wiped off from her face.

An invitation card.

A wedding invitation.

Her ex-boyfriend was getting married to her ex-roommate.

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