Swara stilled even as her heart raced. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Was this Sanskar,
really Sanskar, marching toward her in the middle of a busy Friday afternoon?
And if so, just ‘which’ Sanskar was he?
Sanskar strode up to her position, dropped the cases he was holding, and sneered.
“Fishing,” he said.
The usual Sanskar, Swara decided, and he wasn’t bending here at all. Quite the opposite,
it appeared. But her heart kept on racing as she got to her feet. “Yeah,” she said, and lifted
her chin. “Fishing.”
Sanskar put his hands on his hips. “You don’t have the slightest idea how to catch a
Swara arched her brows and tried to calm her pulse. “So?”
He squinted at her. Slowly, he said, “So. Fishing is about catching fish.”
“Oh, yeah?”
Only a brief hesitation showed he’d heard her answer. Then he was bending on one
knee over his case to snap it open. “This is a real rod.”
“Yes.” He lifted an impossibly delicate-looking stick from the case. With a
supercilious expression, he eyed her. “You have to use the right equipment, learn the
correct techniques.”
“Hmm.” She’d been right. He wasn’t bending. He’d only come to — to organize their
fun. “Well, that might be true,” Swara told him, “if fishing were really about catching fish.”
He blinked. “Pardon me?”
“I said maybe we’d need the proper equipment and the correct techniques if we were
actually out here to catch fish.”
She saw his nostrils flare. “You’re not out here to catch fish?”
Swara didn’t dare glance toward Sahil, who was staring at his line. “No.”

Slowly, Sanskar rose. “Then what are you doing?”
Swara crossed her arms. “We’re…communing with nature. Taking it easy.”
A muscle in Sanskar’s jaw jumped. “I do know how to ‘take it easy.’ And fishing —
fishing correctly — is not all that stressful a sport.”
He wasn’t getting it at all. They weren’t out here to compete at sports. They weren’t
trying to achieve anything. Oh, he was utterly hopeless. And yet as she stared into his
grim, intense face, Swara couldn’t help feeling something warm and tender grow inside.
“Sports in general are stressful,” she countered, perhaps more sharply than necessary.
She didn’t want to feel warm inside! “Believe me, I know. And we are not doing any of
that here. We are relaxing.” And she was not falling in love with him, she wasn’t! But
despite it all, the warm feeling inside her grew.
He tilted his head and gave her a peculiar look. “The hell you say.”
“Excuse me?”
“Move aside. I intend to show Sahil how to fish.”
“A fish!” Sahil exclaimed. “I’ve got a fish!” His words cut through the escalating
argument like a knife through butter.
“What?” Swara whirled.
“No.” Sanskar stepped toward him.
“It’s — it’s something,” Sahil said, battling to hold onto his line.
It was indeed something. Swara could see Sahil’s kitchen string line stretch tight.
“Hold on!” she called.
“A net,” Sanskar muttered. “He needs a net.”
“No time!” Swara exclaimed, and splashed directly into the stream.
“Oh, for the love of — ” she heard Sanskar growl, but Swara clomped toward Sahil’s
taut line anyway. It wasn’t the right way to do things, but neither was Sahil’s paper clip
hook or cheese bait correct, so Swara figured it evened out. She stooped and plunged her
hands into the stream.
“It’s getting away!” Sahil wailed.
“No. No, it isn’t. I feel it!”
“You don’t.” Suddenly Sanskar was right in front of her.
“What?” The sight of him, up to his high-tailored knees in water, made Swara start.
She dropped the fish. “What — what the heck are you doing, Sanskar?”
“I’m going to get that fish,” he replied, and plunged his own hands into the stream.
For half a second she stared at him. He was going to ruin his suit. Then her eyes
widened. “Oh, no you don’t. That’s my fish — I mean, Sahil’s.” She moved to intercept.
Too late.
“Got it!” Sanskar crowed and lifted a wiggling fish. His jacket sleeves were soaked but
he gave Swara an unmistakable look of triumph.
“Ha!” Swara gloated as the fish slipped out of his grasp. She lunged for it.
So did Sanskar. They collided midstream.
“I’ve got it.”
“No, I have.”
Sahil was screaming something, Swara couldn’t understand what. Meanwhile neither
she nor Sanskar actually had the fish, which wriggled between their pressed-together bodies.
Swara’s hands grappled with Sanskar’s in the slippery mess between them.
“Can’t you — ?
“Over there!”
At one point they almost had it, four hands wrapped around the scaly creature. But
Swara could feel the fish gaining ground.
She started to laugh. It was too much, Sahil jumping up and down on the bank, the
two of them soaked and fighting this poor fish. Talk about stress! Still laughing, her eyes
met Sanskar’s.
Her breath caught in her throat.
Sanskar’s hold on the fish loosened.
“Shoot!” Sahil exclaimed, as the fish wiggled free.
God, Swara thought. Oh God, oh God. It was there, shimmering in the air between
them, the special something, the zing — exactly what she’d felt the first time they’d met in
Las Vegas. As if…as if the two of them had been born soul mates, as if they understood
each other and always would. As if they belonged together.
Sanskar looked like he’d been hit by a baseball bat. Swara thought he was going to
stumble backwards, but he didn’t. Instead, a sort of haze rose over his eyes. Then he
leaned toward her, took her face between his hands, and kissed her.
At first Swara couldn’t do anything but close her eyes. It felt so incredibly good, like a
shower of sunshine spreading through her bones. Sanskar’s hands, his mouth, the mere touch
of him. Then he got hungry. He moved his head, shifted his lips. And the kiss went from
good to other-worldly. Swara moaned and reached up for him.
They seemed to meld, just blend right into each other. And warmth, such a fantastic
warmth grew between them against the freezing cold water of the stream.
“Aw-w-w,” Sahil complained.
At the sound, Sanskar started. With his mouth still pressed to Swara’s, he seemed to
come back to himself. She could feel him leaving her, first emotionally, then physically.
The delicious warmth retreated as he pulled away.
Slowly, very slowly, in no rush to return to reality herself, Swara lifted her lashes.
Sanskar was looking down at her with an expression of complete bafflement. As she
gazed back, Swara grew baffled herself. What had happened to ‘her’ Sanskar? She could tell
he was gone. More bewildering yet, the warm feeling inside her, the connection, wasn’t
going away. No, it kept growing. Even though this wasn’t ‘her’ Sanskar!
His brows curled. “I — ”
“Have to take a picture,” Swara interrupted. She blinked and took a giant step back,
nearly falling into the water. “Historic event,” she chattered on. “Have to preserve for
posterity.” Her heart was going a mile a minute. What was happening to her? She didn’t
even care that ‘her’ Sanskar had left! The feelings — they kept escalating. She — had to
“What do you have to take a picture of?” Sahil wanted to know. He shoved his
hands onto his hips.
“You’re all done kissing.”
Sanskar choked. Swara laughed. A register too high. She turned and splashed away from
Sanskar, up the bank. Camera, camera. She needed something to occupy her hands. Because
she hadn’t switched allegiance. She wasn’t settling. She wanted her Sanskar, the one who
was free and easy, the one who loved her.
On the bank, Swara fumbled for her disposable camera, picked it up, and made herself
turn around. Sanskar was standing ten feet away from her, fancy suit dripping. He looked
like he wanted to strangle somebody, starting with himself. He looked like he wanted to
crawl out of his skin. Definitely not ‘her’ Sanskar at all. Yet Swara felt something puff up
enormous in her chest.
“Here, I’ll take the picture,” Sahil said. He shoved past Sanskar. “Because both of you
guys are lunatics.”
Swara didn’t protest as Sahil took the camera out of her hands. She was about to
drop it, anyway. What was going on with her?
Sanskar, meanwhile, had obviously figured out exactly what was going on with him, and
didn’t like it one bit. He got a tight look on his face, the kind that said he was so above it
all. Before Sahil could snap a picture, he took a big step away.
“Staff report,” he claimed. “They’re all waiting.”
“Huh?” Sahil said.
Sanskar didn’t bother to explain. His eyes flicked once, worriedly, to Swara. Then he
turned, expression implacable again, and stalked away.
Though he was clearly trying his best to pretend nothing had happened, Swara could
hear water squishing out of his shoes.
She wanted to laugh. She might have laughed, if she didn’t want to deny it all so badly
herself. She’d fallen in love with one man. She just couldn’t have gone and become
interested in another one.
Three hours later she was not surprised to learn that Sanskar had fled the scene
“Emergency,” Laksh announced when she walked into the dining room and looked
around. His gaze was close on her.
“In Atlanta. Said he’d be out of town ’til Monday.”
Swara stood in her floor-length gown, the one she’d picked out especially for Sanskar,
and tried to absorb her disappointment. He was gone. Well, that was…good. Yes, good.
Because she was having serious doubts about her sanity.
She’d kissed him, the ‘other’ Sanskar — twice now. She’d felt something for him. She’d
just spent the entire afternoon primping and dressing for him. And now she was
disappointed that he was gone.
This wasn’t right. It wasn’t wise or good. It wasn’t even loyal.
“Oh, well then,” Swara said out loud. “Might as well eat.” She walked up to a chair
and drew it out. But her mouth felt stuffy.
Sahil half climbed, half sat in his chair. Laksh seated himself elegantly in his own.
With his brows rising, he picked up a linen napkin. “I must say, I can’t blame the man for
running. Sahil told me you were kissing Sanskar, in the middle of the stream by the north
fence.” He looked over at Swara.
“He was kissing me,” she corrected, and tossed open her own folded napkin.
Laksh snorted. “All the more reason to get scared. What have you done to him, Swara,
thrown some kind of magic spell?”
More like he’d thrown a magic spell on her. She wasn’t a fickle person. She’d married
a man in Las Vegas. But now, somehow, she was starting to have feelings for this other
man in Massachusetts.
“I have to admit — ” Laksh picked up the spoon for his soup. “I didn’t think you were
going to get anywhere.”
“All of you underestimate me.”
“No-o-o.” Laksh drew out the word. “More like I underestimated Sanskar. Who’d have
guessed he could hold the interest of a decent female this long?” Laksh shook his head.
“You defy all logic.”
Swara splashed her spoon in her soup. “Logic has nothing to do with it.”
“Hm,” Laksh murmured.
There was a brief silence. Swara stopped splashing her soup. She regarded the warm,
golden color of the butternut squash, then looked up. What had she said? Logic had
nothing to do with it.
“I know who I married,” Swara told Laksh, vehemently.
Laksh started. “Um,” he said. “Okay.”
Swara felt heat build beneath her fancy gown, the one she’d picked out just in case
Sanskar had been there for dinner. “I know who I married,” she insisted, “and Sanskar isn’t him.
He’s — he’s — a different person altogether.”
“Uh…okay,” Laksh agreed.
Swara pushed her bowl of soup away. “All right, a part of him is the same, but only a
part. And that part keeps coming and going so fast I can’t keep track of where it ends and
the rest of him begins.”
Both Laksh and Sahil were staring at her. As her words came back to her, Swara felt
like staring at herself. She had just said, she couldn’t keep track of where’ her’ Sanskar ended
and the other one began. “Why, there is no difference between the two,” she whispered.
There was no schism, no two, distinct personalities. Sanskar had been telling the truth in
that conference room in Las Vegas. A part of him was the man she had married. That part
was always there, but it was only one part. He was much more than that. He was —
Swara leaned back against the sturdy oak frame of her chair. Who was he?
Laksh frowned at her. “No difference between whom, Swara?”
Good question. Swara waved a hand. “I thought he was a different person. I mean, he’s
cold, closed-off, and — and — disapproving.” Yes, and that same man had kissed her in
the middle of a stream. He’d soaked his fancy business suit, wrestled a fish. Who was
“He’s…more,” Swara said out loud.
“More than cold, closed-off, and disapproving?” Laksh’s frown deepened. “Not that I
know of.”
“You’re wrong.” Swara laughed, but it was a weak, just-got-hit-in-the-belly kind of
laugh. Sanskar was more. He was loyal, hard-working, and dependable. And when she
closed her eyes she could see him standing there with his hands on her face, a look of stark
yearning on his own.
He wanted more, too. He wanted love. He really did. In fact, he might even want to
love her.
Swara didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Sanskar wasn’t the man she’d married, but
he wasn’t not him, either. Oh, how complicated everything had become!
“Personally, I don’t think Sanskar is anything more than that cold, closed-off person you
were talking about,” Laksh spoke up, sounding worried.
“Oh, but he is.” Swara couldn’t dismiss the truth. “He just needs — ” What? What did
Sanskar need?
“To change his personality?” Laksh’s eyes widened. “Yes, I believe we could all agree
on that.”
“No.” Swara put her napkin down. She pushed out of her chair. “What he needs…is to
be able to express his personality.”
“Uh…doesn’t he do that already?”
“No.” Swara paced the length of the dining room table.
“He doesn’t feel safe. And why should he? No one’s ever made him feel that way.”

Laksh’s brows drew down. “Don’t get me wrong. I like having you here. But — ” He grimaced. “But come on. Sanskar, not feeling safe? I can’t think of anyone more supremely
arrogant than my cousin.”
Swara arched her brows at Laksh. “Is that right?”
“Yeah.” But Laksh’s gaze averted, and he shifted in his seat. It was all the confirmation
Swara sought.
Laksh seemed to know it. “Okay, fine,” he said. “Sanskar may have his…little problems.
But I’m sure he feels safe. Or, even if he doesn’t, how could you make him feel that way?”
“I don’t know how.” Swara gripped the back of her chair. “I only know I have to try.”
Laksh’s gaze narrowed. “You have to try.” His eyes became mere slits. “Why?”
While Laksh’s regard was narrow, Sahil’s was wide, and curious.
Swara refused to acknowledge the immediate answer that came to mind. She stalked
back toward her chair. “How…? Now, that won’t be easy, of course.” In fact, she hadn’t a
single, viable idea of how to make Sanskar feel safe, how to allow him to be who he really
But she would think of something, because this was important, vital, no longer a
choice. She had to help him.
“No, I don’t know the how of it,” Swara admitted and sighed with a wry smile. “But it
looks like I have ’til Monday to figure it out.”
guys its ch11 sorry for mistake

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  1. Vyshu10


  2. Thnx for the wonderful chapter

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