His demons cried out with vehemence when he felt her lips cold and unresponsive. Clutching her hair, he pulled her head away and looked at her still motionless face.
His call was more from the pain vibrating inside him than a command.
Before he could say anything else he felt the car stop. He clutched her hard to himself and buried her face in his chest, and pulled his coat around them.
The car door opened and he saw Annie’s head butting inside. Without thinking, he let Ishani go and gently laid her down on the car seat. Annie was getting inside the car to help the hospital staff to get Ishani on a stretcher but he brushed her off and then stepped out of the car.
The moment Rudra was out, he pushed the hospital staff aside and then leant inside the car. Cradling Ishani in his arms, he pulled her out and carried her inside the hospital.
Amar rushed towards him the moment he saw him.
“Put her down on the stretcher,” he commanded.
Rudra laid her down on the stretcher but didn’t let go. Holding her hand in his, he briskly strode alongside it. Just as they reached near the casualty room, her body racked with violent coughs and instantly he pulled her in his arms brushing everyone aside.
“Rudra we need to take her inside, please,” Amar said placing his hand on his shoulders.
But right now all he could do was look at her face. Suddenly her eyes flickered open and he just stared, his brain going numb with the blank look in them.
Just as her eyes centred at his face, he felt her hand slipping away from his. Instinctively he grabbed her and pulled her more towards him.
Amar’s eyes flicked to Rudra’s face just as he heard him.
The name he hadn’t uttered in the last 17 years.
Not even once.
Rudra watched as her eyes shifted and started to close. Suddenly he was standing in the middle of that ill-fated room in the haveli but this time instead of his parents and sister, it was Ishani standing right in front of him. Transfixed, he kept looking at her when suddenly she smiled.
Every bit around her burst into flames and she started retreating into the fire step by step.
Rudra wanted to stop her but every sinew in his body had become motionless. Just as she took the final step and became one with the flames, he felt everything burn around him.
The call of his name jerked him back to reality. Her motionless face materialised in his vision and he found himself still holding her tightly in his arms.
“Is she alive?” he asked looking at Amar.
Amar looked at him with narrowed eyes and nodded.
“Rudra we need to take her. Now,” he urged.
Laying her down on the stretcher, he let them take her inside the casualty room but held onto her hand till the end.
Just as her hand slipped out of his, the sensation of burning returned and slowly turned into a searing ache slithering through his veins. But he kept standing outside the room till the door closed, his hand outstretched.
Viman’s voice broke through his stance. Turning towards his brother, he looked at him.
Viman watched Rudra’s eyes shifting from something he had never seen to a burning rage within a matter of seconds. Every muscle of his face became hard and before he even spoke, he knew what his brother was going to say.
Annie looked at the door in front and almost felt her world ceasing. Although her brain was telling her that Ishani was inside that room, her heart was trying to deny it with such strength that she felt like a third person watching all this from the sidelines.
What if something happens to her?
What if she is not able to wake up anymore?
Shaking her head hard, she tried to drive the thoughts from her mind and collapsed on the nearby chair.
Kabir watched as she palmed her face and then closed her eyes. He wanted to turn away but couldn’t as he saw tears slipping out from the closed lids. An almost silent sob escaped her quivering lips and instantly he was next to her. Sitting down, he gingerly placed his hand on her tightened fist.
“She is going to be okay, don’t worry.”
Annie’s trance broke as the soft voice next to her registered in her mind. She opened her eyes and looked sideways.
“How do you know?”
“Sometimes you just got to have faith. You can’t kill hope just coz something has gone wrong. Right now I believe she needs you to keep that faith alive,” he said softly with a smile.
She wanted to return the smile but somehow the face that came into the corner of her vision turned everything upside down.
Rudra, back in his business suit strode briskly towards her but before he could say anything his eyes narrowed as they rested on Kabir’s hand on hers.
Kabir withdrew his hand and stood up.
“Handle the media,” Rudra commanded.
Kabir nodded and walked off towards the other end of the hospital.
Annie turned her face away not wanting to look at the man standing right in front of her. Her control on her anger was slowly slipping but it snapped the moment Rudra sat down next to her.
She stood up and turned towards him, her eyes burning with animosity.
“Leave,” she ordered.
Rudra’s face hardened with effort as he tried hard to control the rising turmoil inside.
“Get out!” she said through clenched teeth.
Everything in him combusted the moment he heard her.
Standing up, he grabbed her and backed her up against the wall.
“I won’t. You can’t make me. You are the reason she is in there. You are nothing but a curse in her life. You have given her nothing but pain,” Annie said looking straight into his eyes.
Then gripping his hand, she pulled it off her arm and pushed him away.
Rudra’s eyes darkened as rage rose to a new level. He stepped into her way, blocking it.
“And I intend to give her more.”