They decided not to go home.
“Laksh, Sahil, a bevy of servants,” Sanskar said, after the second time in his office.
Panting, he handed Swara her shirt. “We’ll get a hotel room.” Then he looked at her and
added, “Now.”
Swara wiggled back into her clothes. As she trotted with Sanskar past the dragon outside
his office, she tried her best to look as if she hadn’t been tumbled twice in the past half
hour. Judging by the expression on Mrs. Barnes’ face, Swara wasn’t too successful.
Sanskar didn’t seem to care. With Swara’s hand firmly clasped in his own, he led her the
few city blocks from his office to the Parker House. Classy place. But no sooner were they
upstairs and in their hotel room then they were attacking each other’s clothes again.
It went on like that for the rest of the afternoon. Rolling over the bed and onto the
floor; panting, hot, and entwined. It was crazy. It was wonderful. Swara couldn’t get
enough of him. Better yet, Sanskar couldn’t get enough of her. Oh, it was as if a dam had
He was finally letting go.
Yes, later in the dusk and lying in Sanskar’s arms, Swara smugly assumed she had
managed to break through. Sanskar was reaching out for what he wanted and needed.
And what he wanted and needed was her.
Smiling, Swara caressed his toe with her own. “Say,” she said with a yawn. “Do you
know what time it is?”
“Does it matter?”
“No.” Swara’s smile widened. It didn’t matter in the slightest, except that Sanskar
Maheshwari didn’t care what time it was. She abandoned her warm spot and lifted onto her
palms to look down at him.
The lights from downtown Boston drifted through the sheer curtains over the window
and illumined one half of his face. It was a fabulous face; sharply cut features, deep
intelligence, profound passion. It was the face of a man she’d come to know much, much
better that afternoon. His lashes were low as he returned her gaze.
A sensation like honey flowed through Swara; warm, complete, and unutterably
tender. “Hmm.” She smiled and tapped his chin.
All right, the feeling was love. She’d been in love with him since — well, probably
since he’d first flown back to Las Vegas to apologize. She just hadn’t realized it. How
could she have? He kept the real him, the all-of-him, so well hidden. Now she leaned
down and gave him a kiss as a laugh escaped her.
Sanskar’s eyebrows raised.
“I was just thinking — ” She bit the inside of her cheek. “This sure has been a
“Uh huh.” With a grin, Swara lowered her chin onto his chest. “You are
He frowned, clearly not understanding.
Swara couldn’t help giggling. “You know.” She cocked her head toward the bed. “At
“At this?” His eyebrows jumped, then came way down. “But — wasn’t I inventive in
Las Vegas?”
“Unh unh.” Swara chuckled and rose onto her knees. “So I guess there are some
advantages to you being, well, just plain you.”
He continued to frown, appearing to digest this.
“That’s good,” Swara assured him.
“Hm.” His gaze shifted to one side. “Well I’m glad something good has come of this.”
Swara stopped. Hearing his tone, she did a slow blink. “Is something wrong?”
“Is something wrong.” He repeated it like a statement, then pushed himself to a sitting
“What’s wrong is that you were absolutely correct. I don’t have any self-control
when it comes to you.”
Swara blinked rapidly now, trying to make sense of what she was hearing. Well yes, he
didn’t have self-control, but hadn’t that been the point? She’d thought he’d let go —
happily. For heaven’s sake, hadn’t they been going at it like rabbits all afternoon?
With an oath, Sanskar shoved the covers aside and stood up. He had a beautiful back,
broad at the shoulders, tapering to the hips. He seemed utterly unaware of his own
nakedness, though, as he began to pace the room.
“We went from a kiss to pure insanity. And now this — ” He threw out an arm,
encompassing the room. “I walked out of my office, just walked out, in order to spend the afternoon…here.”
Swara remained scrunched on her knees, watching him. She’d thought there had been
joy in their lovemaking. But Sanskar, bitterly pacing the room, did not look the least bit
joyful. He looked, in fact — now that she really looked at him — utterly miserable.
Swara felt a terrible lowering sensation. It was as though a dark blanket were getting
pulled over the brightness of her own joy. Why, none of this was what it had seemed.
None of it was what he had wanted. He wasn’t happy. He hadn’t let go. Nor did he want
her, really, at all.
She’d completely mistaken everything.
Sanskar muttered something unintelligible and paced away from her again.
A huge knot lodged in her throat. “I’m sorry.”
He stopped. His head whipped around.
“I’m sorry,” Swara repeated, then tried to swallow the knot. “I certainly didn’t intend to
make you unhappy.”
Sanskar stared at her.
“If it’s any consolation,” Swara chattered on, “I don’t have much self-control when it
comes to you, either. I mean, believe it or not, I didn’t intend this to happen.” She waved
her own arm to encompass the room. “Either.”
Sanskar’s eyes grew dark. “But you came to my office. You were dressed like — ”
“I know, I know.” Swara looked away and heaved a deep sigh. “But all I really wanted
was to get your attention.”
There was a short silence, and then Sanskar barked a laugh. “Consider it gotten.”

“Yeah, well.” Swara sank to pull the bed sheet over her chest. Her heart was
shriveling. He was upset he’d let go with her. He wasn’t happy about this.
She’d completely fooled herself, just blinded her eyes. Heck, she’d known he was
scared. He’d actually left town in order to avoid her. That should have told her something.
But no. She’d thought she could push through.
Instead what she’d done was simply push.
“Tell you what.” Pulling the sheets with her, Swara slipped off the bed. “It’s not too
late. Put on your clothes, go back to the office. You can catch up on whatever you left
undone this afternoon.”
The expression on Sanskar’s face changed rapidly. “Go back — ?”
“A few phone calls and I’ll bet you can reschedule whatever appointments you
missed.” Wrapping the sheet around her, Swara hobbled over to her skirt. Her shirt, she
saw, was all the way by the door.
“Swara — ” To her surprise, Sanskar’s tone indicated resistance to her plan. But there
was relief in there, too. He wanted to go back to the office, retrace his steps, she could
Swara bit her lower lip and bent to retrieve her shirt. Oh, how had she fooled herself
that he was happy, that he felt anything for her?
“Swara, no.” Sanskar began to walk toward her, utterly naked, gloriously so, and way
too preoccupied to care. His tone was firm. “This is my fault. It was my choice to walk
out, my choice to come here. I’m not going to compound my sins by treating you like a —
like a — ”

Swara didn’t wait to hear what word he might come up with. “I’ll take a cab home. The
party’s kind of over, anyway, don’t you think?” She ventured to glance over at him.
Somehow, she smiled.
He paused in the center of the room. His expression was conflicted. On the one hand,
he clearly did want to go back to the office, to prove he wasn’t completely out of control.
On the other hand, he seemed to think there were certain rules that applied to this kind of
situation and they did not include walking out on a recent s*x partner.
Swara felt warmth rush back into her chest. He truly was a good man.
Just not one who was ready to love her.
The knot leaped back into her throat. She’d done it again. Jumped the gun, made up
stories about the man’s feelings. Swara clicked open the door to the bathroom. “It’ll just
take me a minute to get dressed.”
“Swara — ” Sanskar stepped toward her and Swara halted. The look that was suddenly
on his face — For half an instant she thought he was going to say something incredible,
something magical, something that might allow her to believe she hadn’t made such a
terrible mistake, after all. Then whatever Swara had seen in Sanskar’s face disappeared.
“I’ll call you the cab,” he said.
“Right.” Swara pushed open the door of the bathroom. She managed a breezy smile as
she stepped through. Once the door was closed and she was alone, however, the smile
vanished. She turned to rest her forehead against the closed door.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Here she was in love, and Sanskar wasn’t even happy he’d had s*x with her.
Quietly, Swara knocked her head against the bathroom door. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Alone in his downtown office that Monday evening, Sanskar didn’t get much done. It
wasn’t that he was tired, though he’d certainly exerted himself during the afternoon spent
at the Parker House. Nor did he have trouble finding the parties he needed to reach in
order to reschedule his missed appointments — Myers the attorney excluded. No, those
weren’t his problems.
His problem was Swara.
Oh, she wasn’t there physically. He couldn’t blame her sensual aura, the clothes she
wore, or that special light in her eyes. But she was there in front of him all the same.
I’m sorry, she’d said, her voice hoarse, her eyes shadowed. I didn’t mean to make you
miserable, she’d said.
Sanskar sat behind his desk and stared unseeingly at a budget projection. He couldn’t get
her voice or those words out of his mind. And he couldn’t help wondering: could she have
been sincere?
Was it possible she really hadn’t wanted to make him miserable?
At his office desk, Sanskar squeezed his fountain pen between his fingers. An hour ago
he’d been in her thrall. Utterly bewitched. s*xually stupefied. He’d easily have spent the
next day, the next week, in her arms. He’d have hated himself afterwards, but he’d have
done it. He’d totally lost control.
She’d had him just where she wanted him — that is, just where Sanskar had imagined
she wanted him — and she’d let go. She’d called a halt to things, extricated him. She’d
even sent him here to his office so he could take care of his responsibilities.
Sanskar pushed the budget projection away. He stared heavily at the opposite wall. One
could almost argue she’d looked out for him, though he wasn’t ready to go that far.
However, she most certainly hadn’t taken advantage of him. She hadn’t used his
weakness to gain some selfish concession.
Sanskar scowled and uncurled from his chair. This was not what he’d expected of her,
not what he’d…counted on. She was supposed to be bad, selfish, manipulative. She was
supposed to be like one of his father’s awful brides. Somebody he didn’t have to consider.
Instead, she’d been…a mystery. Inexplicable.
Sanskar paced over to the window. With one hand on the frame, he stared at the lights
on the street below. His own behavior had not been mysterious, however. His own
behavior had been cloddish, at best. Loutish, at worst. The woman had been giving him
the most exhilarating s*xual experience of his life, and he’d brought her to an apology!
He’d let her take the blame for his own flaws, his own miscalculations. She’d left the
Parker House clearly feeling awful, as though she’d done something wrong. He’d let her
leave that way.
Talk about bad, selfish, and manipulative.
Cars and people traveled by on the street fifteen stories below. Sanskar moved his hand
from the window frame to a spot beneath his tie.
No, he was not getting much accomplished here at the office.

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