Rihaan didn’t get one thing. He looked at Anna. “Can you tell me why everybody is wearing red or pink? Is there some kind of dress code you didn’t tell me about?”
“It’s Valentine’s day, silly.” She laughed giving his shoulder a playful shove.
“Is it?” he muttered under his breath.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! You should be with your wife. It completely slipped my mind!”
His lips drew into a thin line. “Never mind that. Get to the point. Why did you call me here?”
She hesitated, taking a sip of his unfinished drink. “The idea is to make my boyfriend shit in his pants with jealousy. He’s been taking me way too much for granted.”
“Hmm…” Rihaan looked at her, as if seeing her for the first time.
“Will that bother…uh…your wife?” she asked.
“My wife? No, absolutely not. She’s generous to a fault when it comes to matters of philanthropy.”
And while Anna wrinkled her forehead over his statement, he mused; Wonder how it’ll affect Naina if she sees me with Anna right now?
“Dr. Mehta…” Anna began.
“Call me Rihaan.” He grinned. “We’ve certainly been working together long enough for us to be casual with names. So, what did you tell your boyfriend?”
“I told him I was going out with my boss who’s a regular dish. He’s seen you so he knows I’m not lying.” She giggled. “I also texted him this club’s address.”
“You did. And what does he do, this gentleman friend of yours?”
“He’s an amateur boxer and a pretty good one at that.”
Rihaan wondered what mess he’d got himself in.
Right then he heard something which consigned everything else to oblivion. Her voice—Naina’s—as radiant and light as a summer breeze, that his ears were tuned to detect even in the noisiest of clubs. He swung around on his barstool.
Yes, there she was, looking unbelievably fetching in a crochet blush pink shift that admirably complemented her flawless complexion, and with her silky hair knotted casually at the base of her neck. She was sitting at a table, with a few other companions, but his eyes focused on only one, the villain of the piece, her lover, the buffoon who looked even more despicable at close quarters.
“Let’s dance,” Rihaan said, standing up abruptly and forcibly pulling Anna by the arm to the clearing in front of the small stage where the saxophonist had gone into a prolonged, flamboyant solo, egged on by a cheering crowd.
Keeping his mouth close to his partner’s ear, as if carrying on an intimate conversation, he swung deliberately close to where his wife was seated so Anna would brush against her arm. Naina glanced up, and her eyes widened with the shock of recognition. Then, as he looked on, her lovely face flushed red with indignation, including the tip of her pretty little nose. Rihaan felt a wonderful sense of achievement. He inclined his head slightly to acknowledge her presence before swinging away.
But the very next moment he saw her get up and walk away. He gave chase, after hurriedly transferring Anna over to a stocky young man, who’d been glowering silently at them for some time, and whom she nervously addressed as Ricky.
“Why did you leave?” he asked his wife, spotting her on the sidewalk. She looked frantic.
“I was just bored. And tired. It’s been a long day. So now if you’ll excuse me.” She stepped off the curb and waved at a taxi. It whizzed by.
“You left because you saw me dancing with Anna,” he snorted.
She pretended not to hear him and took off down a side street at a brisk pace.
He was equally quick to pursue. “You just couldn’t stomach it. You were hopping mad. Isn’t that right?”
“Why? Why should I feel anything?” she retorted over her shoulder. “You are free to do what you want…dance with whom you like…whenever you want.”
“Am I? But I’m sorry you are not!” he exclaimed, grabbing her arm and holding her back before she could cross the road. “That man…that buffoon whom I saw you invite into your apartment? Who’s he and what’s he doing with you?”
She seemed nonplussed for a moment. “What…? Oh…so that’s why you didn’t show up that night. I’d been wondering. By the way, his name is Farzad and he’s not a buffoon. He’s my mentor at work. A very nice and kind man who happened to let me rent his place for practically nothing, because he rarely gets to use it. He was there to pick up some stuff before leaving on his next tour, and he was so excited since he’d get to see his wife, who is in Cairo. But anyhow, I don’t think I owe you an explanation.” She glared fiercely at him. “When I know that you don’t care about what I do with my life or who I choose to spend it with.”
“I do care.” He gripped both her arms, compelling her to look into his eyes that burned with a flame she’d never encountered before. “I care because you’re my wife and you belong to no one else but me.” He jerked her closer. “Only me.”
And then his lips found hers.
She struggled, but when he didn’t let go, she gave up. Letting out a long relaxed sigh, she wrapped her arms around his neck. Naina leaned into him, keeping her body flush against his. He supported her weight, holding her in a snug embrace, as they continued to kiss while Anita Baker crooned out of hidden speakers on the sidewalk.
Their coming together seemed inevitable.
He whispered into her ear, “We are just two blocks from my place.”
— Want to read more? Get the book at the links below. HAPPY VALENTINES.