The Retreat

Krittika woke up fresh and all energetic to take on the world. She was not planning to take a day off as she had forgotten that it was her birthday. Vikrant had messaged her that he will reach at her place by 8.00 am. The girls need to get ready by then. Krittika had no clue what was going on in Vikrant's head. Krittika and Riddhima were ready on time. Krittika's mum had prepared birthday special breakfast. Krittika was in love with gobi parathas, and she had put an extra dose of white butter. She kissed her daughter and made a silent wish to God to ward off all the problems from her life, and she gets settled in life soon. So when a parent wants their daughter to "get settled.", their intention is to find a groom and get her married.

"Mum, open your eyes. The perfect guy for me will run away. Don't pray too hard." They all had a hearty laugh.

Girls gorged on to the parathas and left for the office. They reached the bus stand exactly at 8.00 am and Vikrant was waiting right there. Krittika was dressed in a feminine floral top with skin hugging jeans which did justice to her svelte figure. Her hair was loosely tied in a plait. Her signature ( big fat ) bag was swaying and her phone in another hand. She waved at him, and he waved back. Girls were giggling on something, and the smiling face made Krittika more adorable. He could not ask for more. The serenity of the situation brought a smile on Vikrant's face.

"I am sitting in front with the handsome lad Kritti..You sit behind."

"Ok," And Krittika sat behind.

"OMG, you are such a bore. I was expecting you to put up a fight. Come in the front and don't try to be the best girl."

Riddhima sat with a thud and Krittika had a mischievous smile on her face.

"Let's get back to work girls. Krittika, when I am taking the turn, and the car is pretty close to the stalker, make sure that you point correctly and show me who is the stalker. You need to point your finger at him in such a manner that he sees all of us. Ok?"

Krittika nodded in affirmation.

Vikrant took a turn, and the car was slowly moving towards the bus stop where the stalker was standing. Vikrant made sure that car is just trailing, Krittika pointed the finger towards the stalker and uttered to Vikrant, " He is the one "

Stalker did not pay any heed to Krittika's gesture and was looking at the opposite bus stop.His reaction confused all three of them. Krittika increased the volume of her voice and again repeated " Vikrant, this is the stalker" No reaction again. The stalker's gaze was fixed. Vikrant could not park the car on this busy road and had to speed off.

"Where was he looking Riddhima. Do you think he is blind? He did not react and was not staring at me." Vikrant's mind was busy in processing the information. Either this guy was just avoiding them because a male person was present with the girls or his target was somebody else. He had to get to the root of this issue else Krittika will be living in this perpetual fear. He dropped the girls to the office and told them to take a backseat for few days. The agreed arrangement was Vikrant would stay at his friend's place which was near to Krittika's house and keep a watch on this man. He had taken few weeks off from his work to finish the pending tasks in Delhi.

Before Krittika marched off, he pulled her back gently and wished her happy birthday again.

"We will have lunch together, just you and me. And while going back home, I will drop you at home. Let's follow this routine for few days."

Krittika was all smiles and could not have asked for a better birthday gift. Vikrant had planned to start the action from tomorrow.

Birthday was busy for Krittika, office colleagues wishing her, cake cutting, then pizza lunch with Vikrant. By the time, dusk came, she was all tired.

She was sitting beside him, with eyes closed. She had no clue how the evening will shape up.

"Hey, Krittu. Can I meet your parents tonight and we all can have dinner together "

"Yes, why not. They will be more than happy to meet you."

This was easy. Probably, Krittika does not know what Vikrant intends to do during dinner time. Vikrant parked the car and checked himself in the mirror. After all, he was going to meet the parents of her leading lady. Krittika was fatigued, and she did not notice Vikrant checking himself out. Krittika rang the bell, and her mother opened the door.

"Hello, mummy. What did you make for dinner? My day was very hectic. Mumma meet Vikrant. The answer to your morning prayers."

She chuckled. Her mother gave her a gentle slap and welcomed him inside. Krittika brought water for Vikrant and excused for few minutes to change. Krittika's father joined Vikrant and greeted him. They got engrossed in a conversation pretty quickly. The table was all set for the dinner. Krittika's mother called out.

Vikrant nudged Krittika to bring her mother. He wanted to talk something before they go for dinner. "Beta, this girl did not even tell me that you are coming else I would have cooked something special. As it's her birthday and she loves paneer and aloo gobi, so that is all there on the menu."

Vikrant smiled and said "No problem aunty. Menu items do not bother me. The food should be edible and tasty. And I am sure you would have cooked fantastic food."

Vikrant wanted to come to the point soon without losing his confidence.

"Uncle and Aunty, I am sure Krittika might have mentioned about me. I am sorry I came unannounced but today was the best day to discuss this topic with you. I am in love with your daughter and would like to marry her. If you are ok and accept me as your son-in-law, then I can ask my parents to meet you and take it further."

Vikrant's throat was all dry, and he finished the entire sentence without taking any break. He finished the speech and could see three blank faces. There was no reaction, and Krittika was the most startled one.

Krittika's father sensed the situation that the ladies of the house do not know how to react. He stood up and hugged Vikrant.

"If you can promise to keep our daughter happy and love her till eternity, we accept you as a family." Vikrant smiled and pressed Krittika's father hand in assurance. More hugs followed, and he bowed to take Auntie's blessings.

"Auntie, are you happy?"

"I am beta. A mother only wants her children to be happy. Let's have food. It's getting cold." Mothers have a fixation for warm food.

Vikrant and Krittika were exchanging secret glances and the moment their eyes used to meet, Krittika's face used to go crimson red. Vikrant was feeling at ease now. It was not easy for him to discuss his marriage proposal and that too in the first meeting.

Dinner was followed with homemade gajar ka halwa. It was time to say good night. Krittika's father took Vikrant's number and told him that they are eager to meet his parents. Vikrant took their leave and Krittika accompanied him to drop him till the car.

Vikrant held Krittika's hand which sent shivers across her.

"Hey, are you happy with the birthday gift?"

"I could not have asked for anything better."

She smiled shyly.

"I am amused to see this shy girl Krittu" Vikrant teased her and gave a small knock on her head. "Good night darling. I will see you tomorrow at the bus stop. I still need to deal with this stalker issue."

They exchanged a quick hug and retreated to their individual nests.

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