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Anahita Maurya is the modern image of the independent, liberated girl with equally modern family background. Despite this, she is betrothed to her father's best friend's son, Yuvraaj, who knows nothing but to get under her skin. She clearly despised his presence in her life and adamantly employs all the devices to get out of his vice clasp. Even if this means getting a boyfriend and defiant her family. Now, she has successfully involved herself in a relationship and Yuvraaj has chosen the exact moment to turn her world upside down. From persuasion to rebellion, all the measures have been plied. Finally, headstrong and ball-breaking Anahita decides to elope on the eve of her wedding. Except, her boyfriend never turns up.
Thirty five Days.
Eight forty hours.
Fifty thousand four hundred minutes.
Thirty lakh twenty four thousand seconds of endurance, and then she would be free to fly freely in the vast sky like a bird.
‘Remember! This marriage is out of convenience. So you’ve to stay strong.’ Anahita told herself, unscrewing the lock of her earrings and dropping them on the vanity table beside the pool of her bangles. Scoffing, she rolled her eyes, murmuring. “Who wants to be with him anyway? I will just focus on fending off these days in peace.”
With a soft creak, the bedroom door opened slowly and she raised her thick lashes to the mirror again. Her lips—full, luscious and painted red—stretched to the dip of her cheeks in a faux smile.
How couldn’t she feel his presence? The scorching warmth which filled the void of the room—how could she miss it?
She saw a pair of warm eyes—sparkling pools of liquid silver as she preferred to view his gray orbs—scanned the room, disregarding her presence. She knew he was intentionally avoiding looking at her. That jerk! Well, she wasn’t dying to catch his eyes.
Even so, when his wandering vision dropped on the mirror and his eyes glinted in delight, she couldn’t help pushing down the hard lump in her throat.
‘Don’t forget. A few days of pretense, and you’ll be out of this mess.’ She emboldened her shaking will. Widening her suspended grin, she embraced his gaze and worked on taking out the heavy necklace from her slender neck.
Yuvraaj walked over to her purposefully, his brooding gaze was unreadable. Even though scared that he might see through her facade, she put on a brave front and controlled her racing heart when he stood right behind her.
‘When in Rome, do as Romans do,’ Her sensible mind advised.
No person could be so distraught and long-faced as Anahita on a romantic date. And, definitely, no one could be so afraid to not even initiate a conversation. A lavish dinner at a seven star hotel, soft music and romantic ambiance to cheer up his sulking girlfriend made a hole in Mukund’s cheap wallet.
However, all of it was a total waste. The girlfriend was still sad. Italian food, classic wine, and her favorite dessert sat on the table untouched. Chewing lazily on a spring of cucumber, Anahita tapped her feet under her chair, crossing them at ankles. In the cup of her hands, her ample chin rested.
“Okay, you got to tell me what is wrong with you?" Mukund asked, finally fed up with the silence. She darted a glance at him and sighed, dropping her gaze back on her plate. “I was thinking something.”
“Yeah, like what?”
“Nothing.” She droned, spitting the chewed peel in the air. “You tell me. What did you want to talk about?”
Mukund pointed at her plate. “You’ve barely eaten anything.”
She leaned back, straightening up her closed posture and gently pushing the plate away from her, “I don’t feel like eating. You continue with your phone. I didn’t mean to disturb you.” She jutted her chin to his phone.
Comprehending her silent complaint, Mukund closed his mails and placed the phone on the checkered tablecloth,
“No, my work is done. Tell me now, what’s bothering you?” He asked, and as if she had been waiting for it, Anahita jumped at him.
“You are bothering me. You promised me that you will marry me. It’s the time now. Do something.” She demanded, lowering her eyebrows in tension. Mukund nodded, playing the same dialogue on loop. “Just calm down. I will think of something.”
Triggered, Anahita banged her fists on the table, making him jump slightly with her unprecedented aggression. “I can’t calm down. It’s my bloody life you’re playing with. I am not going to tolerate this anymore.” She nearly yelled.
“Alright. Alright.” Mukund shushed her, grabbing her wrists. “I will definitely think of a way. Don’t worry.”
“I already have a plan.” Mukund inclined his eyebrows in suspicion as he tried to read her brain. Her glinting eyes were saying a lot though. He knew that mask of expression that she wore—lips tugged in a smirk, devil eyes wide and eyebrows drawn up to her hairline—was the summary of her elfish ideas.
“What’s in your mind?” He risked it, and she grinned. “Let’s run away. We are going to get married anyway, right? So, let’s run away now. Far and far away from everyone and everything where he can’t even catch a glimpse of me.” She said in relief, not realizing that she had mentioned the ‘he’ she hated to take the name of.
Mukund didn’t take account of it as well, and rolled his eyes. “Stop watching dramas. This is getting into your brain.”
“I am serious, Mukund.” She furrowed her eyebrows to show her gravity. He mirrored her frown and retorted. “So am I.”
“Fine then.” She shrugged carelessly, crossing her arms over her chest. “Watch me getting married to that chimpanzee.”
“Anahita.” Mukund droned wearily, and rubbed his face. “Running away isn’t as easy as you think. It’s not ‘Jab We Met’. I need to make proper arrangements for us. Where will we go? Where will we live? What will we eat?”
“So what do you want?” She whined.
“I need some time. Give me a… couple of months. I will do something.”
Anahita rubbed her forehead, shaking her head. “Mukund, I am getting married next month. I can’t wait any longer.”
“Don’t Anu me.” She grunted at once. “You promised to take me out of this mess. You have to take responsibility. I don’t know anything. Either get married to me or run away with me. I don’t know. Just do something.”
Masking his smile, he cleared his throat. “You sound childish.”
“I don’t care. I’ve been tolerating him since my childhood, but that’s it. I am not going to entertain him anymore. He bosses me around. And do you know the worst part of it? Everyone thinks it’s romantic. Huh! Romantic my ass.” She muttered, twisting her lips. Mukund opened his mouth to interject, but she spoke again.
“No one wants to see through his facade. He enjoys torturing me. That pig! I am not going to marry him. No matter what happens.”
And just like that, ‘his’ face danced in front of her eyes—the owner of the most handsome face yet dirty and dangerous thoughts. With a sinister smirk plastered upon his lips and his sly silver eyes always watching her with a glint of naughtiness in them, he managed to cast a spell upon everyone and gained popularity faster than the Airtel girl. As Anahita tried to envision ‘that man’ as her husband, a scream tore off her mouth.
“No.” She sat up straight and shook her head fervently. “No. No. No. I won’t marry him. I can’t tolerate him anymore. Mukund, please save me from him. Please take me away. I don’t want to marry him.” She started begging.
“Hold on.” Mukund cocked an eyebrow at her, “Why do you wanna run away with me? Is it because you want to marry me because you love me or because Yuvraaj is bossy? huh?”
Anahita blinked in perplexity, and whined as soon as his words settled in her mind. “Of course because I love you.”
“Good.” Mukund flashed her a smile, and she nodded. “Yes. Smile, and make a plan fast. We only have this month, actually twenty days to be exact. Okay?”
“Okay.” He squeezed her palm and Anahita felt the iceberg of tension melting inside her. She smiled at him, hoping he would be able to find a solution to get rid of the only problem in her life.
‘Did you think of something?’
Anahita typed with urgency, and left a message for Mukund before joining her family in the intensive work of finalizing invites for the wedding. She was past the phase where she would beg her father to meet Mukund or at least try to get to know him. Her eyes caught the glimpse of a square shaped, dark blue invite which was simple and elegant. It had a peacock painted on the back, and the front was customized with a satin ribbon. A crest of their initials was on top.
‘So much for the wedding which won’t happen.’ She thought mirthlessly, and plopped on the couch. She was getting along with others, but her eyes were focused on her phone. She checked her phone several times already. Mukund didn’t leave a text. On the other hand, her distant relatives—typhoons of uncles and aunts—bragged about the arrangements in their kids’ weddings, comparing every single detail and criticizing the invites.
Anahita yawned, paying no heed to them. She knew
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