Tag Archives: Shanak

Rhythm & Blues Chap 30: Tangled Tale

overture

Chapter 29

30: Tangled Tale

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“Good morning sleeping beauty.”

Khanak flopped over on her stomach and buried her head in a large fluffy pillow. She was trying hard to hold on to her dream. Or was it real. It was hard to tell. The scene was a grand ball, where she was the only one dancing with the handsome prince because he wouldn’t dance with anyone else. He was holding her tight as if he feared she would vanish at any moment. Then his fudge brown eyes peered deep into her own as he asked for her hand and her heart stopped beating and…

“Wake up sleepy head!”

She stirred and groaned in complaint as the bright rays of sun struck her eyes. Her head throbbed as someone shook her arm.

“Where am I?”

“Perfecto! Just the question I would expect from a beautiful princess. C’mon wake up or was the witch’s spell stronger than the power of your love?”

“What?”

Khanak sat up straight. The sudden movement made the room spin and sent a wave of nausea through her chest. She stared blankly at the purple haired man sitting in front of her grinning from ear to ear.

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Rhythm and Blues Chap 29: Can you Love me Again?

love me again

chapter 28

29: Can you Love me Again

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“Damnit!”

“Why what’s the matter?”

“There goes our romantic dinner. I mean…,” Shan laughed, “Sorry I sort of got carried away. It’s Dibubhai fault. He’s taking this thing way too seriously.” He said shaking his head while looking at a note pinned to a dartboard that hung on the wall.

Khanak was perplexed. She had been relegated to such a state ever since earlier in the day when her boss’ housekeeper had addressed her as ‘bahu’ or daughter-in-law. Matters appeared to have gotten even more complex and indiscernible with Dibubhai and Shaan’s mysterious discussions and now this.

The look on her face almost made Shan laugh out loud. But he controlled himself. It would be disastrous to give himself away especially when Dibu had come up with such a brainwave. Dibu you are a genius! He thought then cleared his throat, “Dibu in all his wisdom has given us an advice…”

“Advice?”

“Yes advice,” he nodded with as much seriousness as he garner. “According to him if we want our farce to be ironclad we both need plenty of practice. He would be terribly put down if he’d have to serve madam Tash;” Shan said and frowned. He couldn’t imagine such a scenario. Then he looked at Khanak. No. He couldn’t let that happen at any cost. He would likely perish if he didn’t have her permanently at his side and in his life. “I think he has a point there for sure,” he murmured.

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Human After All Chap 9: Stoking the Flames

chapter 8

9: Stoking the Flames

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While sitting in the back seat of the car on the way back home Shantanu looked out of the window at the rain drenched city that was winding down after a long day. It had been a similar day that had brought Khanak in to his life and today when he felt almost certain that he wanted her to stay for keeps, it was raining again. It must be a good omen he thought with a smile though he had never considered himself superstitious. Yet now he was willing to believe in anything.

He mused over what had transpired in the clinic. Meeting Khanak on an equal footing (even though he had to concoct an excuse to see her) had injected into him a tremendous zest for life. He felt invigorated and steeped in enthusiasm for the future that so far had seemed bland and quite ambiguous. Now all his doubts had vanished. They had been replaced with an immense tenderness and ardor for her so much that he wanted to take her in his arms and cherish and shield her from all the miseries of the world.

He was sure the feeling was mutual. He had seen it in her eyes though she had tried to conceal it under a veneer of anger and irritation. She seemed tentative and he understood why and respected it. But at the same time he wanted to break her resolve and that had to be pretty soon. Now that he was sure of his feelings, he couldn’t wait to take it to the limit and make her his.

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Human After All Chapter 7: Immune to Love?

P1000751 (2)

chapter 6

7: Immune to Love?

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Shantanu searched the hospital discharge papers looking for Khanak’s card. He couldn’t find it. He saw that he had a follow up appointment set up with his surgeon the following afternoon and not with anyone else. He called her clinic which happened to be right beside the hospital and the phone was lifted by someone who appeared to be her secretary.

“Hello. This is Dr. Agarwal’s office. How may I help you?”

“Uhhh…I need to make an appointment.”

“For whom sir?”

“For myself.”

“Umm.. have you seen her before?”

“Yes… Uh actually no. I am a new patient. It’s just that she is so popular, I feel like she’s my doctor.”

“Hahaha! That’s a new one. Your name and age sir?”

“Ah..ummm….” no Shaan no deceptions this time! “Shantanu Khandelwal, old enough to be a father to half a dozen kids but yet to start. I’m 29.”

“Oh! Then Dr. Agarwal cannot see you. She doesn’t deal with infertility issues.”

“No you are mistaken! I think that part of me is working very well!” Shaan said with an embarrassed laugh. “I actually wanted to see her for something with begins with an ‘h’ and ends with an ‘ache.’

There was a slight pause on the other side of the line. Then the woman said; “Sir just a headache? Have you tried some over the counter medicines?”

You guessed wrong but I won’t tell you so. “Ah! Would I give you a call if those things had worked? This ache has been bothering me continuously for the past week and it gets worse every day.  I am in so much pain!” Shaan groaned aloud for added effect.

“I’m so sorry to hear that. May be you should go to the emergency room because Dr. Agarwal won’t be able to see you until day after tomorrow. I could check with Dr. Krishnan though.”

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Human After All Chap 6: She Can Do Magic

park bench

Chapter 5

6: She Can Do Magic

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Khanak stopped smiling when she saw Shaan staring back at her as though he was studying a masterpiece in a gallery. She was unprepared for the directness of his gaze and seeing him in this state, alert and coherent for the first time, threw her completely off her moorings. She looked away to try and recoup. But when she turned back she found him gazing around the room with an utterly lost and bewildered look on his face. She glanced inquiringly at Nurse D’Souza who simply shrugged her shoulders. Khanak thought for a moment then smiled at her nurse and gave her a conspiratorial wink.

Nurse D’Souza promptly read Khanak’s mind. She said directing a pitiful look in Shantanu’s direction; “I think Mr. Khandelwal here needs brain surgery. His mentation has been fluctuating a lot. I’m afraid something’s direly wrong. Do you agree doctor?”

“No! I’m perfectly fine! I don’t need surgery of any kind!” Their patient declared loudly.

“So what was that you were doing just now Mr. Rajkumar? Pretending?”

Shaan flushed. He had been caught in the act again. He saw Dr. Agarwal looking at him, her beautiful eyes saying quite clearly; GOTCHA! I am smarter than you think!

You certainly are not as bholi bhaali as you look, he thought. There seems to be a wily brain floating around in that pretty skull of yours. Beauty and brains– a deadly combo. No wonder Dr. Deepak is crazy about you. Now why don’t I like that? Shaan pursed his lips sensing a pang of envy.

Meanwhile Khanak was back to being a bunch of nerves, her sensation of triumph short lived. She tried very hard to feel indifferent while examining Shaan but that was proving to be more difficult than she had anticipated.

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Human After All Chap 4: The Man in Her Dreams

hospital

Chapter 3

4: The Man in her Dreams

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Khanak at long last pulled her Nano out of the hospital parking lot and started to gingerly inch towards home. The car had been a graduation gift from her parents. Her father who had always ridden his faithful old scooter to work had bought it for her. When she had hesitated to accept it, he had insisted with pride; “Doctor Khanak Agarwal needs a car of her own. These docs keep odd hours don’t they? Isliye it is important you have your own means of transport and that should be a car and nothing else. Case closed.” Fortunately, it was not expensive and her father could afford it, though he still continued to ride his scooter saying it was an old friend and a hard habit to break.

Though she was extremely tired after her long shift she couldn’t relax right away. She cursed the rush hour traffic. The only difference was that she was travelling in the opposite direction. She had asked her mother to give her a missed call every five minutes to prevent her from nodding off on the wheel. Dr. Deepak had offered to drop her home but she had refused. For if he knew where she lived, he would drop by anytime and try to impress her parents. That wouldn’t be too hard–a future cardiac surgeon who wanted to hook up with their daughter. She couldn’t have that. For she disliked the man from the bottom of her heart. He was rude, irksome and worst of all inhuman.

SCREEEEECH! Khanak hit the brakes just in time. A young woman on a scooter with a little boy behind her had squeezed into the tiny space in front of her. As she tried to calm her racing heart down, she noticed that the boy was no older than the little girl in the ER–Megha. What a precious relationship they shared; Megha and her uncle. Just like a father and daughter. She hoped they were all right. She recalled Megha had clung to her arm then fallen asleep crying for her chachu.

Her family had finally arrived and created quite a scene. A woman who’d turned out to be her mother had been at the forefront screaming at the top of her lungs and scared the little girl out of her wits. Khanak had told her firmly to calm down. Then had gently persuaded Megha to go to her. She had albeit with great reluctance.

When Khanak reached home she found her mother beside herself with worry.

Sunita Agarwal was the loving wife of Pramod Agarwal and adoring mother of Khanak and her younger sister Palak. As a housewife she made sure their lives ran like a well-oiled engine. Though at times when it didn’t her usual slogan was–its life after all! She was the one who had encouraged her daughters to follow their dreams. She had seen their dreams with them and worked tirelessly to make them come true. She was a hard taskmaster but Khanak loved her to death. Because she knew if it been for her mother, she may have never achieved what she had been able to so far.

So when her mother told her that she had perhaps chosen the wrong career Khanak retorted: “Mama please! Medicine is not just my career; it is a part of my life. Don’t you remember how you used to encourage me to study late into the night telling me that I better get used to it? Do you want me to give up so soon?”

Her mother nodded reluctantly, “Yes but…your health?”

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Rhythm & Blues Chap 23: Glad You Came

glad you came

Chap 22

23: Glad You Came

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Dil toh pagal hai, Dil deewana hai…sigh, thought Diva as he watched Shan follow Khanak’s progress back toward the Green Room. Go after her! What are you waiting for? Knock her senseless with a burning red hot smacker! 

But Shan didn’t take his unspoken advice instead gave his head a strong jerk as if trying valiantly to uproot himself out of a trance. Poor darling…I feel for you babes! Diva empathized.

“Diva…” Shan looked at him, “it appears that Khanak has spun her magic on the Japanese.”

Just like she has on you! Diva smiled.

Shan looked at him suspiciously before continuing in a brusque clip; “They are so impressed that they want to book her for a couple of shows. In fact they are anxious to talk about it right now.” His tone then softened, “She’ll be so pleased.”

His face then broke out into a huge grin; “I will tell her later. Surprise her with it! Yes!”

Diva nodded enthusiastically, “Yes darling! Do that! She’ll love to hear it from you.”

“Cool! I will later tonight. That girl deserves the best. She has worked so hard.”

And she has you on her side! Diva thought dabbing his eyes with a tissue.

“I will see you later then at the party,” Shan said turning to walk away.

“What? You aren’t taking her with you?” Diva asked.

“No. I need to meet with these guys first and remember it’s a surprise!” Shan smiled. Then mid stride he paused back and pointed a warning finger at his friend; “You better bring her Diva! Or I don’t know what I’ll do!”

“Pretender!” Diva called out once he felt Shan was safely out of ear shot. “He thinks I’m his messenger boy. As if I can’t see the way his heart does balle balle when he is with her. Why can’t he just confide and be done with it?! And there that poor girl in such a state!”

His pristine hands fluttered like a couple of winged creatures in the air as he hurried to do Shan’s bidding; “Love is a weird thing. It turns smart sensible men into bumbling donkeys! But mein kya karoon?! I love them both so much! My babies!”

***

Diva knocked on Khanak’s green room door before he breezed in. But then he drew to an abrupt halt, his blue eyes opening as wide as saucers.

The girl in question was sitting in a chair staring despondently at the mirror.

“Khanak my jaan! Meri Shan ke heart ki armaan!” he exclaimed. “What happened? Why aren’t you ready yet?”

“C’mon quick! Get up! Do you want him to kill me? Hailaaa! Though I wouldn’t mind having those big sexy hands on my neck. But they’d look so much better elsewhere.” He then looked at Khanak. “Don’t you get me?” Then as she shook her head in the negative, he let out his breath; “Good! Because it’s censored! Girls should preserve their innocence till their wedding night samjhi?”

Khanak blushed furiously.

“And what are you wearing?” He said staring at her salwar suit; “Girl! This is a dance club, not your local mahila mandal.”

He quickly sifted through the dresses on the rack. “Yes this will be perfect. Wear it.” His eyes were shining. “Shan teri toh vaat lag gayi! (Shan it’s your funeral.)”

“I am not going.” She said. “Can you take me home?”

Then when he raised his exquisitely arched eyebrows, she tried to explain with her hands clasped tightly on her lap; “I…I’m not really a party person and I don’t know anybody there…”

Diva affected a loud cackle…; “As if anybody does. To tell you the truth half of the invitees hate the other half’s guts! But everything is obliterated for the cameras. They’ll kiss, make up and embrace each other. They will show off their latest acquisitions, their Lamborghini’s and Louis Vuitton’s and their sparklers just so they can make it on tomorrow’s Page 3.”

But he succeeded in making Khanak even more anxious; “I definitely don’t see myself hobnobbing with such a crowd.”

“My dear girl, the choice is out of your hands now! You are part of that crowd! By doing what you did on stage today, you have taken your first step into show biz! Everybody is sitting up and talking about you. They want to know more such as where you came from; what were your beginnings; how you met Shan; everything. Besides you are Jhankaar’s new face!”

The hand he placed on her head was almost paternal, “It’s a tough deal yes, but fame is not an easy game. You are forced to wear a lot of faces and do things you’d hate to do otherwise. Because talent is not everything here. Its visibility…being the media darling will make or break you! And you do want to be famous don’t you?”

“Yes I do… but…”

He smiled. There was a shrewd glint in his eyes. “You’re worried you’ll be pitched against that Tash and you are afraid you’ll lose. Yes she is a force to reckon with, a seasoned player. But you can’t wish her away. She won’t vanish into thin air if you don’t face her tonight. Rather it’ll reinforce he to use all her deceit to get you out of the way…and you can’t let her do that! You have to buck up and face her!”

“My dear Khanak…,” he sighed standing her up and held her arms. “You are beautiful. Your talent is so fresh that you shine like a beacon. People are already falling under your spell. You have nothing to fear. In fact Tash is the one who feels threatened because she can see you usurping her place in Shan’s life…even though she is really living in a delusion. You have to show her you are here to stay. Besides Shan needs you by his side… and I know you want to be with him…”

***

CRAZY HEARTS NIGHT CLUB, Bandra:

A place where insane hearts find each other and have a wonderfully awesome time

The club was rocking to the latest in dance music. Every night it was a different theme. Tonight was devoted to the engaging rhythms of hip hop and jazz to which grooved a rambunctious crowd of the young and restless from the upper echelons of Mumbai. All having drifted in to let their hair down and dance until the wee hours of the morning.

Tash had just completed a sizzling routine, dressed in shimmering white a la Kylie Minogue. But she didn’t look very thrilled.

“You were brilliant Tash! …Ooooohhhh all those sexy moves! Were they choreographed with Shan in mind? And btw your ankle, it looks as right as rain!” Trish said.

“Yes in a way… but I’m not so sure now. He looked sort of annoyed,” Natasha said doubtfully. She seemed to have grown a permanent frown.

“Of course, I’m pretty sure he took notice even though he was watching the door most of the time…” Trish gushed with a flutter of her false eyelashes and a wide smile on her vampire red lips though inside she wasn’t feeling very sympathetic–You stuck up bitch! Your days are over! Shan could care a hoot! …hope you break your back this time and get permanently laid up!

“You think so?” Natasha turned to her.

“Yes, I know so. But you know Tarun is game anytime, maybe you should get connected…”

“Tarun? Never! Your brother is a big time loser!” Natasha’s eyes flashed.

“Yeah I know.” Trish nodded agreeing wholeheartedly; that’s why I think you are both made for each other!

Wonder where Shan has disappeared…”

All of a sudden there was a commotion near the entrance. Someone had arrived. People stopped dancing and looked up. It was a new face and a popular one– always a worthy distraction.

Trish grabbing a Bloody Mary from the bar and joined the crowd while hollering at Tash; “C’mon! Let’s check them out. Must be some money bags…”

***

OMGEEEE! Who do we have here? Mousey Ms. Sweetie Pie herself!” Trish exclaimed, her mouth agape when she saw Khanak.

Khanak looked stunning in an elegant raspberry red flowing cocktail dress with spaghetti halter straps and a gold and silver broad sequined belt, the skirt just stopping short of her pretty knees. Her hair was set in wavy curls and caught up in a red, gold and silver bow and her feet were clad in strappy red and gold sandals. With minimal makeup and a dazzling smile she looked as fresh and alluring as a new born daisy.

Light bulbs flashed in a frenzy as people elbowed each other out of the way to get near her. Autographs were requested and signed while a couple of paparazzi hounded her and thrust their mikes in her face.

Diva meanwhile butted in. “Leave way! Ms. Khanak is here to have fun. Direct all interview requests to me, I am her secretary.” He said clearing the way for Khanak.

Then he spied Trish and Tash and gravitated towards them dragging a confused Khanak with him. “Here’s your honored guest Ms. Natasha. What happened darling? Did you bite into a particularly sour lemon?”

Trish forced her mouth closed and looked at Natasha who was glowering at Diva who said;“Haaye if looks could kill! Tash, you should consider the horror movie genre…the directors would save plenty on makeup.”

DIVA!”

Khanak tried to shroud her snigger behind her hand when something bright caught Trish’s sharp eyes.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing.” Khanak said snatching her hand away.

“No. It’s a ring! Tash…look!”

When all of a sudden;

The entire club was plunged into darkness except a sole beam that spotlighted Khanak.

The sun goes down, The stars come out

And all that counts, Is here and now

My universe will never be the same

I’m glad you came

Then as the foot tapping music sprung up, several cross beamed lasers in a multitude of colors lit up the small stage where stood a lone tall flamboyant figure with his legs splayed wide, his head turned to one side and his hand holding a black glittering fedora cocked jauntily over his forehead. He was dressed in a white checkered plaid shirt, sequin red tie and baggy khaki cargos.

Khanak’s heart jumped into her throat and she grew lightheaded when she recognized the smile on the handsome profile.

SHAANNNNNNNNN!”

The crowd screamed as one when the dancer smartly snapped his feet together and began to sing with his outstretched arm pointed directly at Khanak.

Khanak felt irresistibly drawn to the strikingly gorgeous man who also seemed to have eyes only for her. Everything else faded into the background.

You cast a spell on me, spell on me

You hit me like the sky fell on me, fell on me

And I decided you look well on me, well on me

So let’s go somewhere no one else can see, you and me

He sprung off the stage. The crowd shifted en masse and gave way as his long legs covered the distance to Khanak in a few effortless strides. He vaulted over the railing that cordoned off the small enclosure where she stood and grabbing hold of her waist lifted her back to the floor, all the while gazing intently into her eyes and ignoring everyone else.

Turn the lights out now

Now I’ll take you by the hand

Hand you another drink, Drink it if you can

Can you spend a little time, Time is slipping away,

Away from us so stay, Stay with me I can make,

Make you glad you came

She followed him in a trance as he led her to the dance floor and stood there in the middle hypnotized while he danced around her in light fluid movements… limbs loose and dexterous…living the music…interpreting every word and making it his own.

His moves almost made him appear to float. His feet glided on the floor as he did complex acrobatic moves that were mesmerizing to watch but hard to breakdown. It seemed like he was wooing her, making tantalizing advances and trying to win her over. He was without a doubt succeeding hands down.

The sun goes down, The stars come out

And all that counts, Is here and now

My universe will never be the same

I’m glad you came

Then switching pace he jerked her close making the crowd gasp with anticipation. She did not resist when he made her stretch both her arms above her head as his hands skimmed over her torso then hoisted her up in a single smooth movement. She scissored her long legs around his waist and arched her back while he hugged her body and rested his forehead on her chest.

A loud applause peppered with whistles and catcalls erupted around the attractive couple who seemed lost in a world of their own.

“Glad you came Khanak;” he whispered huskily in her ear then lifted her hand and kissed it. She lowered her gaze in shy distress.

“Atta boy Shan! Way to go!” Diva yelled his approval.

“What’s the hell is going on here?!”

tbc

PS: Sorry about the delay but I’ve been busy with several things including the promotions of my new book MILAN. Yes it’s out! And you can get it here!

Rhythm & Blues Chap 19: Ironic

R and B

Chapter Links

19: Ironic

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“TISH!”

A peal of insane laughter. “Gotcha! You and your dirty little secrets!”

Yes it was Shan’s neighbor, who having designated herself as his unofficial girlfriend had conveniently pocketed a set of his house keys.

She was looking at both of them right now with a wily smile plastered on her painted face, standing, no leaning against the studio door seeming at any moment ready to tip over and land on her face.

I need to get those keys back! Shaan thought.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Horse had her pinned to the ground in a jiffy and appeared to be wondering whether she would make decent breakfast material.

“Get this bloody monster off me!” She shrieked.

Shan ignored her. Horse needed to polish his aggression skills. Lately he had become too soft after being overly babied by Khanak.

“What in Hell are you doing here at this hour?! He demanded while reluctantly letting go of his dance partner. Kabab mein haddi had to drop in at this time! Just when I felt I was attaining  a different plane with Khanak.

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Rhythm&Blues Chap 18: Love is in the Air

salsa

Chapter Links

18: Love is in the Air

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WOOF!… WOOF!

“WATCH OUT!”

Khanak turned just in time as a huge fur ball flew across the roof garden and hurtled itself on top of her nearly knocking her over.

“HORSE!”  Khanak laughed struggling to maintain her balance as the overgrown pup placed his forepaws on her shoulders and proceeded to lick her face clean with a very wet tongue.

“Horse…I missed you.. and looks like you missed me too! How have you been?” She cried burying her face in the warm thick coat hugging the furry body which shook from side to side along with the happy tail.

Shan watched silently as girl and dog met like long lost friends even though they had been apart a bare couple of days. He made no attempt to curb his pet’s enthusiasm. She needed the distraction as well as the unconditional affection that she was willing to accept.

I don’t think she’s ready to accept mine..not yet.

“Hey Horse! Down boy!”He shouted when he saw Khanak bulldozed to the ground.

She convulsed with laughter holding a hand to her stomach when she saw Shan roll around on the flagstones floor wrestling with his Akita for control.

“That’s enough alright!” Shan yelled at the point of being overpowered..

“Phew! Bless my stars that he still recalls some of the training he’s been through.” He said getting up and embarrassedly running a hand through his hair.If he was trying to impress her by a demonstration of his machismo he had failed miserably.

But Khanak wasn’t paying him any attention, instead she was thinking aloud as she scratched the Akita’s throat. He had slunk away to her seeking consolation. “Only Horse loves me for me. He never wanted to know my name..nor was he curious about where I came from. He could care less if I was an escaped convict on the run from the law. He just decided that he likes me..that’s all. He didn’t judge me..nor did he publicly humiliate me. Then why..why does everyone else?” She cried out before bursting  into tears.

“Oh my poor Khanak!” Shan rushed to her side. He pulled her into his arms, rocking her gently as she sobbed.

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Rhythm and Blues Chap 17: Tangled Chords

Tangled chords

Chapter Links

17: Tangled Chords

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My heart is a butterfly

Drifting aimless in the breeze

Floating without a care

Fluttering my wings

Of resplendent silk

Those who lay eyes upon me

Watch in wonder

As I dance, in a trance

To the song of freedom

And the music of love

It was a gorgeous piece of artwork–a tiny yet pristine butterfly arrested in mid-flight, so precious and fragile, handle with care or it’ll never fly again. Turning her hand this way and that, Khanak admired the way the ring caught the light. Surprisingly it seemed custom made for her finger.

How could something so small be responsible for such havoc and chaos in my life? She closed her eyes as the thing in her chest contracted in raw pain. For just a moment she had wanted to believe in what the cold piece of stone and metal implied. That’s what it is,just a symbol, an empty hollow symbol.

And it has served its purpose. She stole a glance sideways and caught him watching her. Her nerves came alive tingling in a flurry of excitement. It was his invariable effect on her no matter how well she thought she’d prepared herself.

Against her better judgment she felt drawn toward him; like  fish  to bait or  mice  to cheese; a surefire path to self annihilation.

His gaze didn’t falter, rather she was being perused with singular intensity.

I have my eye trained on the target, and it’s you!

Breathless, she felt trapped, ensnared. She turned away desperate for a way out, unsure if he had gauged the depth of her feelings mirrored in her face.

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