Khanak turned on her heels.
“Surprise. Surprise.She also wears cute glasses. Soon she will change into a bat and make me her latest meal. I’m loving it.”
“You!” Khanak rushed to remove her glasses.
“No, don’t. You look like a pretty nerdy prof. And ridiculously sexy on top of that.”
As she looked at him in nervous confusion, he came up to her, took her glasses from her hand and put them back on her face, flicking the tip of her nose in the process. She tried to back away as he moved closer and ended up getting hedged into a corner. She leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, knowing that looking at him would make her thoughts run wild.
“Get away from me;” She croaked.
“You are too distracting. I can’t think.”
“I don’t want you to think. I just want you to concentrate on me. Just like at this moment I can’t think of anything but you.”
Khanak felt dizzy. She didn’t realize she was holding her breath. She wanted to touch him, for him to touch her, to burn her skin with his fingertips.
“But what about Nurse D’Souza?” she sighed..
“She’s in my pocket like thousands of other women. Aren’t you jealous?”
Her eyes popped open. She looked into his eyes searching for the truth behind those words.
“My God, you kill me.” He whispered leaning dangerously close, his breath playing with her locks. “This school boy cries for his teacher.”
She blushed and turned away just as his mouth came down.
“Damn you! Damn you Khanak! Damn this world!” He closed his eyes and banged his fist on the wall.
Seizing her opportunity she pushed past him and ran to her desk.
“Not so fast.” He tried to grab for her, but not before she reached the intercom.
“Nurse D’souza, could you please come in right now!” Khanak said as Shaan slid his arms around her waist.
“Are you sure, Dr Agarwal?” There was hesitation in Nurse D’Souza’s voice.
“ As sure as I’ve ever been!”.
‘I’ll be right there!”
Khanak threw her betrothed a triumphant look as he hastily withdrew from her, a mix of anger and frustration on his face. And then his mood changed and his face lit up with a cryptic smile, making her nervous once again.
Khanak stood outside the clinic entrance waiting for Shaan to bring his bike up. He had persuaded her to go out to lunch with him, threatening dire consequences if she didn’t. “This is the first day of the rest of our lives together. And no matter what happens I want to make it a ritual that we spend some time with each other exclusively every day from now on. If I forget, you remind me and if you forget, I will. So what better way to start than a date; a lunch date.”
She smiled. Shaan was trying too hard. The only reason she hesitated was to keep up with societal obligations and norms. But, once he realized that she wished to be as close to him just as he did all hell would break loose. Therefore, it was better to keep him guessing.
She turned around and was surprised to see Deepak who it appeared had materialized out of nowhere.
“Hello.” She smiled. She felt like smiling at everyone today.
“You look amazing! There’s a new glow about you. Did you miss me that much?”
She laughed and shook her head.
“Great! A smile and now a laugh too. The Gods are generous! Maybe I should go away more often.”
She nodded. “Yes. That would make life much easier for the rest of us.”
He didn’t get her sarcasm or pretended not to. “Don’t you want to know why I went away?”
She shrugged. “Not really.”
But he went ahead anyway.“There are a couple of reasons. First, I hate playing second fiddle and my dad thought I was good enough to be on my own. So, guess what? I’ve got an offer to head the CT surgery department at the Midtown hospital!”
“That’s amazing. So when are you planning on leaving?”
“Well, I said a couple of reasons. The second one involves you.”
She jerked back to attention and looked at him suspiciously. His smile was smug. “I wanted to see how much I really felt about you and I see I’m quite a bit attracted to you. So, I’m asking you to come away with me.”
“Are you kidding?” She said with ill-concealed disgust.
“Aww c’mon. Your behavior when you saw me is a clear indicator of your feelings.”
“That’s utter nonsense! How can you assume anything? I’m very happy where I am.”
“Okay. If that is the reason, I can accommodate you for some time because I like you and so does dad. He was really pleased when I told him about us.”
“You’ve been filling your father’s ears! I do respect Dr Mishra, but where did you get this…this idea about me?” She wasn’t interested in continuing the conversation. But this man’s hubris had overreached itself and he needed to be brought to book.
“I know you kind of girls, the chaloo types. And maybe you are the worst among them, but all women are the same. They give in ultimately, and you are no different.” He leered
“Don’t you dare pool me with your other conquests! When I say no, I mean no!” She looked around. Where the hell are you Shaan? “Besides, I am..”
But Deepak was persistent. “Are you giving me a hint? Do you want something? Yes, you simple girls harbor expensive tastes. A gift of some sort, like say diamonds? Tell me, I can afford it.”
Khanak started to walk away. Deepak grabbed her wrist. “You are back to your old ways, what’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing’s wrong with her. Everything’s wrong with you. Khanak, sorry you had to wait. There was a huge truck blocking my way and it took me a while to hunt the driver down.” Shaan pulled up beside Khanak. The visor of his helmet was pulled down completely hiding his face.
“Who’s this?” Deepak said, glancing at Khanak. “Brother? Cousin? Anyway, nice to meet you.” He said, extending his hand.
“I don’t shake hands with ruffians, especially those who mess around with my woman.” Shaan’s voice held a quiet menace. “I only play rough with such men but I’ll spare you because I only take on equals.”
‘My woman.’ The words would typically make her hackles rise. But not when she heard them from Shaan’s mouth. It felt as if he was talking about his most prized possession. The feeling was primitive.
But it was clear Deepak didn’t welcome the interference. “What gall do you possess to talk to me like that? Who are you anyway?”
Shaan removed his helmet and flashed Deepak his most charming smile.
“You! What are you doing here?”
“Are you deaf besides being a bumbling idiot?” Shaan said. “Can’t you take a hint?” He winked at Khanak who smiled and placed her hand on his shoulder. “Shall I tell him and break his poor heart?” He said, staring into her eyes then took her hand and kissed it. She flushed a bright red.
He turned to Deepak. “You are talking to Khanak’s new bodyguard, and our contract extends indefinitely. She has agreed to be my wife. So there you go Dr. D. I never did like you.”
“Khanak..” Deepak’s face was a sight worth beholding. “You and this… this guy? You know you are making a big mistake.”
Khanak’s smile was beguiling, “Not any bigger than if I’d been with you. Besides, Shaan’s a lot more handsome and a near perfect gentleman.” Her implication wasn’t lost on Shaan who grinned at her.
“We’ll send you the wedding invite, do attend. Let’s go, Khanak, or our lunch date will extend into dinner. I won’t complain but your patients will.”
Khanak smiled and waved at Deepak. He looked like the wind had been plucked out of his sails. She knew he would think twice before bothering her again. And for that she would remain eternally grateful to Shaan. She held tightly onto his shoulder and murmured softly into his broad back, “I love you.”
The bike jerked to a stop making her body fall against his. “Am I dreaming? Say it again.”
“I.. Love..You.” She repeated, enunciating each word clearly.
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