The centre of gravity slowly started to return and she opened her eyes. As her surroundings materialised, she groped for the tell-tall familiarity of her bedside table. But instead, her hand encountered only an empty space.
Somehow, suddenly she knew she wasn’t in her room. Her senses became alert and she snapped her eyes open.
The dimly lit room, hushed voices and a warm hand holding hers welcomed Ishani back to the world of sanity.
The world of pain and betrayal.
She blinked her eyes open and found Annie looking at her with concern written all over her face. The room had a lot of people but as her eyes hovered around only one face stilled it.
The man standing right in front.
The man who had destroyed everything.
The man who had killed everything inside her.
She jerked Annie off and tried to sit up but her friend stopped her.
She glared hard and Annie removed her hand instantly. Ishani sat up a little and stared straight at the face in front. She wanted to say a lot of things but somehow the anger gripping her mind had suddenly rendered her speechless. Everything inside her hardened with every passing second as the memories filtered back one by one.
She moved her leg but nothing happened. It was as if something heavy was sitting on them.
She moved her other leg and it slipped uncontrollably from the bed.
“What is wrong with my legs?”
“Tell me what’s wrong, NOW!”
Annie pulled her body to hers as she started to shiver but it didn’t lessen it. Slowly everything came back again. Her abduction, her stint in the hospital, the endless counselling sessions and then his face, and the blackout.
“Let me go!”
Annie’s arms fell away and Ishani looked at her accusingly.
“You bought me here?”
Annie lowered her head in resignation.
Ishani breathed in to slow down the burning in her head. Flicking the covers off her, she looked at her legs. Both were bandaged till the knees, but somehow the anger settled inside her brain didn’t let her feel the pain at all.
Gritting her teeth, she used all her willpower to move the legs and finally they did. But instantly a blinding pain shot through them and everything stilled around her. Gulping down rising nausea, she clutched the bedsheet hard and then got up.
The shout of her name resounded on her ears but she couldn’t register it as her brain was already in the grips of pain shooting through her legs. Everything blackened in front of her eyes and her knees buckled. Instinctively her right arm stretched out and she felt the warmth of a palm against hers as someone pulled her to safety.
Breathing hard, she rested her head on the shoulders of whoever it was and instantly a serene yet disturbing calm settled inside her. She knew this smell. As her insides bubbled up, she jerked her head up and opened her eyes.
That agonising blackness engulfed her as the gaze of those eyes slithered through. Somehow she didn’t have the power to stop them from gripping her heart and squeezing it, constricting her breathing. Yet, her mind was at peace. The pain was too disturbing but too calming for her to resist.
In a trance, her free hand settled on the shoulder and then started going up. Just as it rested on the cheek, something changed; the room seized to exist.
Rudra stared hard as her warm palm rested against his cheek. He didn’t want to feel the connection however it was so close that he couldn’t stop it from clutching him. He was back in the forest, standing; waiting for his end.
That call wove the tell-tale web of safety around him. He pulled her closer and looked intently into her eyes.
Yes, this was her. The old Ishi yet something was missing, and he knew what it was.
Him. He was the missing link.
He couldn’t help but nod.
“You came back?” she asked gripping his collar with both hands.
He again nodded helplessly.
Suddenly she shook her head and said, “But it’s too late. They destroyed me. I am dead.”
Something primitive and harsh banged into his head and he gripped her hard to him.
“No, you are not. Nobody can kill you. Nobody can take you away from me.”
Suddenly the voices and the forest started to close on them, and he clutched her hard to him, a fear that he had never felt before gripping his heart.
He didn’t want to lose her again; no way. He knew the minute these voices reached them, Ishi will be gone; he will never be able to find her again. He gripped her face with his hands and pulled it towards him.
As the heat of his breathing landed on her mouth, Ishani couldn’t help but raise her lips to him.
That shattered it. The room zapped into existence and she stared hard, recognising. The anger was instant with the regret of knowing this man filtering through her veins.
Rudra’s arms fell away as the realisation hit him. Her knees buckled and he let her fall on the bed.
It was not the pain that hit her but the rage settling inside her.
How could you, Ishani? How could you let him touch you?
She clutched the corner of the bed and tried to get up but after the last stint, there was no strength left in her legs.
“Get me out of here!”
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
Annie and Namish were instantly next to her. As Annie’s arms went around her, Namish gripped her hands in his, squeezing them to reassure.
“Get me out of here. NOW.”
As the agitation started to take hold of her, her body started to shiver and shake.
“We are taking her with us,” Adarsh said looking at Namish.
Namish nodded and started to help Ishani into the nearby wheelchair. Just as he was about to wheel her out, a growl stopped him.
“She is not leaving this house, this room.”
“You take her out of this room and I will destroy her.”
Rudra’s lips twisted in a cruel smile as he neared the wheelchair.
“Rajneesh might kill you if he manages to reach you, but I will definitely destroy you. And then I will let you live. Your life will be a living hell if you step out of this house.”
Before even Namish could finish, Scar snarling growl made him step back.
As Rudra watched fear settle in, he lowered himself to Ishani’s level and looked into her eyes. The fear was there but as her eyes centred on his face, it turned into anger.
His command resonated in the room and Scar sat down right at the edge of the wheelchair, one of the paws settling on the footrest.
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