Ishani looked down at the dog and then at him. She wasn’t scared but she was helpless. For the first time in her life, her inner strength was slowly giving away. Clenching the handle of the wheelchair, she looked around and registered the sheer helplessness on the faces of her family.
Nobody was standing in opposition. Suddenly her defiant side triggered the reaction she had been waiting for. She slid the wheelchair back and then with all her strength got up on her feet.
The shout didn’t register but what registered was the look on the man’s face standing in front.
Rudra’s eyes narrowed as his expression turned indifferent.
Challenged, she took a couple of steps ahead but her legs had already lost their strength. As they gave away, the world around her blanked out and familiar arms grabbed her and then settled her on the bed.
Breathing hard, she shook off the arms holding her then tried to get up again.
“Ishani, don’t do this. You are too weak to even stand for a couple of minutes. We know you don’t want to stay here but can’t do anything. Please understand.”
She looked up at Adarsh and watched in disbelief as he lowered his head.
That was one of the biggest reasons why she had always stayed away from her family.
Angry tears welled up and she blinked them away vigorously. No way was she going to show her weakness. Clutching the bedsheet hard, she looked at the wheelchair and then at the snarling dog.
The situation was a little out of hand. Okay, so it was a lot out of hand but it was definitely not hopeless, and she was definitely not helpless. All she would need to do is get her strength back and then get out of this place.
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and then looked up at Annie.
“I want to sleep. Please leave.”
Saying this, she started to adjust herself on the bed as Annie helped her.
“Take your dog with you.”
“The dog stays.”
“If the dog stays, you will not find one of us here. Either I’ll kill her or she will kill me.”
Rudra turned and in one stride was right on her.
“She won’t kill you until I order her. And believe me, I won’t give that pleasure to anyone else. Killing you and watching you die would be my biggest joy.”
The words filtered in and something inside Ishani broke. She searched for glimpses of Veera in those black eyes staring at her but all she found was darkness.
Rudra straightened and then turned away from her. He needed to get away from all of this. His mind was conjuring images that would make him lose control and right now he didn’t want to lose it altogether.
“Why are you doing this?”
Her question acted as a trigger and as everything darkened around him, he whirled around.
“Because you killed me. You burnt me, burnt everything inside me. You killed my—”
Rudra stopped for all his senses had suddenly gone numb. The names he had not taken in all these years were on the tips of his lips. Clenching his fingers in a fist, he strode out as fast as he could.
Ishani slumped back on the pillow and closed her eyes. A comforting arm slipped on her shoulder and she shrugged it off. She didn’t need any comfort from this pain.
Pain was good, pain was numbing. At least it would blank out his words.
The forest was bright with sunlight and all he could hear was laughter. Stopping in his tracks, he looked around but didn’t find anyone. He shook his head and started walking again.
Just as he reached the clearing, his steps faltered.
There she was, sitting at their favourite spot, waiting for him. He picked up his steps but stopped.
She was talking to someone and their easy banter could be loud and clear.
“Ishi! You can’t always let me win. Come on, one more time and this time play well.”
“No way. You are a good player. There is no way I can play any well than what I have already done.”
Laughter rang in his ears and he ventured closer.
“Stop it! You are losing purposely,” her tone sounded angry.
“I’m not. You are playing good.”
“No, Veera, you are making me win. I am not going to play with you.”
The demons cried out with rage in him.
Rudra closed his eyes forcing the forest out of his head. The next second he opened his eyes, he found himself on his bed, darkness all around. Minutes passed as he lay there immobilised, staring into space.
He jerked upright on the bed and switched on the bedside lamp. The sting of the light hit his eye but he ignored it.
It was nothing compared to the sting of that name.
He couldn’t remember what had happened in the last couple of hours. The last thing his brain had registered was his walk back to the outhouse from that woman’s room.
Rudra got up from the bed and opened the balcony door. As he strode towards the balcony overlooking the main garden area on the left, the wind hit his face and he stopped.
After a long time, his senses suddenly relaxed.
And then, with the wind came a faint yet distinct sound.
Or rather whimpering painfully.
An urgency he had never felt before propelled his feet to move forward and by the time he realised it, he was already on the balcony of the main house.
Rudra’s palms fisted as he realised where he was standing, facing which door.
But the next second a strangled whimper doubled the urgency and he looked inside.
Ishani was sleeping but her face was scrunched up in agony. Her head twisted to the other side and he turned away and started walking towards the main house.
Within seconds he was in front of her door but there was now total silence. He pressed his ear to the door and listened however still nothing. He was about to turn when a groan brushed his ears.
Without thinking further, he opened the door and stepped in.
The light filtering from the balcony door was right on the bed. As Rudra neared the bed, his senses heightened more seeing her twisting in pain.
But suddenly he turned away and sat down on the chair next to her bed. As the seconds ticked by, her whimpers increased and he grabbed the armrest with intensity trying to control the urge to slip next to her.
Scar’s control slipped and she jumped up on the bed. Settling her head against Ishani’s stomach, she tried her best to soothe her.
But he watched, just watched.
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