Hello my lovelies…I saw your comments on my previous updat and all i have to say is Thhhhhhaaaannnnnkkkkkk yoouuuu so much for your response..sorry i haven’t been able to reply to your comments..will be responding to them today evening…till enjoy enjoy the latest update..hope you like this too 🙂
Link to previous episode
Loads of Love
I continue to stare at the words in the notebook.
Is he right? Did I write them because that’s how I really feel?
I never give it much thought when I write lyrics, because I’ve always felt no one would read them, so it doesn’t matter what the meaning is behind the words. But now that I think about it, maybe the fact that I don’t give them much thought proves that they really are a reflection of how I feel. To me, lyrics are harder to write when you have to invent the feelings behind them. That’s when lyrics take a lot of thought, when they aren’t genuine.
Oh, wow. Lakshya is absolutely right. I wrote these lyrics weeks ago, long before I knew about Vikrant and Kritika.
I lean back against the headboard and open my laptop again.
Me: Okay, you win.
Lakshya: It’s not a competition. Just trying to help you see that maybe this breakup is exactly what you needed. I don’t know you very well, but based on the lyrics you wrote, I’m guessing you’ve been craving the chance to be on your own for a while now.
Me: Well you claim not to know me very well, but you seem to know me better than I know myself.
Lakshya: I only know what you told me in those lyrics. Speaking of which, you feel like running through them? I was about to compile them with the music to send to Sanskar and could use your ears. Pun intended.
I laugh and elbow him.
Me: Sure. What do I do?
He stands and picks up his guitar, then nods his head toward the patio. I don’t want to go out on that patio. I don’t care if I was ready to leave Vikrant, I sure wasn’t ready to leave Kritika. And being out there will be too much of a distraction.
I crinkle my nose and shake my head. He glances across the courtyard at my apartment, then pulls his lips into a tight, thin line and slowly nods his head in understanding. He walks over to the bed and sits on the mattress next to me.
Lakshya: I want you to sing the lyrics while I play. I’ll watch you so I can make sure we’re on the same page with where they need to be placed on the sheet music.
Me: No. I’m not singing in front of you.
He huffs and rolls his eyes.
Lakshya: Are you afraid I’ll laugh at how awful you sound? I can’t HEAR YOU, RAGINI!
He’s smiling his irritating smile at me.
Me: Shut up. Fine.
He sets the phone down and begins playing the song. When the lyrics are supposed to come in, he looks up, and I freeze. Not because I’m nervous, though. I freeze because I’m doing that thing again where I’m holding my breath because seeing him play is just . . . he’s incredible.
He doesn’t miss a beat when I skip my intro. He just starts over from the beginning and plays the opening again. I shake myself out of my pathetic awe and begin singing the words. I would probably never be singing lyrics in front of anyone one-on-one like this, but it helps that he can’t hear me. He does stare pretty hard, though, which is a little unnerving.
He pauses after every stanza and makes notes on a page. I lean over and look at what he’s writing. He’s putting musical notes on blank sheet-music paper, along with the lyrics.
He points to one of the lines, then grabs his phone.
Lakshya: What key do you sing this line in?
Lakshya: Do you think it would sound better if you took it a little higher?
Me: I don’t know. I guess we could try.
He plays the second part of the song again, and I take his advice and sing in a higher key. Surprisingly, he’s right. It does sound better.
“How did you know that?” I ask.
Lakshya: I just do.
Me: But how? If you can’t hear, how do you know what sounds good and what doesn’t?
Lakshya: I don’t need to hear it. I feel it.
I shake my head, not understanding. I can maybe understand how he’s taught himself to play a guitar. With enough practice and a good teacher and maybe a ton of studying, it’s possible for him to play as he does. But that doesn’t explain how he can know which key a voice should be in and especially which key sounds better.
Lakshya: What’s wrong? You look confused.
Me: I am confused. I don’t understand how you can differentiate between vibrations or however you say you feel it. I’m beginning to think you and Amit are trying to pull off the ultimate prank and you’re only pretending to be deaf.
Lakshya laughs, then scoots back on the bed until his back meets the headboard. He sits up straight and holds his guitar to his side. He spreads his legs, then pats the empty spot between them.
What the hell? I hope my eyes aren’t open as wide as I think they are. There’s no way I’m sitting that close to him. I shake my head.
He rolls his eyes and picks up his phone.
Lakshya: Come here. I want to show you how I feel it. Get over yourself, and stop thinking I’m trying to seduce you.
I hesitate a few more seconds, but the agitation on his face makes me think I’m being a little immature. I crawl forward, then turn around and carefully sit in front of him with my back to his chest but with several inches between us. He pulls the guitar in front of me and wraps his other arm around me until he’s holding it in position. He pulls it closer, which pushes me flush against him. Lakshya reaches down to his side and picks up his phone.
Lakshya: I’m going to play a chord, and I want you to tell me where you feel it.
I nod, and he brings his hand back to the guitar. He plays a chord and repeats it a few times, then pauses. I grab my phone.
Me: I felt it in your guitar.
He shakes his head and picks up his phone again.
Lakshya: I know you felt it in the guitar, dummy. But where in your body did you feel it?
Me: Play it again.
I close my eyes this time and try to take this seriously. I’ve asked him how he feels it, and he’s trying to show me, so the least I can do is try to understand. He plays the chord a few times, and I’m really trying hard to concentrate, but I feel the vibration everywhere, especially in the guitar pressed against my chest.
Me: It’s hard for me, Lakshya. It just feels like it’s everywhere.
He pushes me forward, and I scoot up. He sets the guitar down, stands up, and walks out of the bedroom. I wait for him, curious about what he’s doing. When he comes back, he’s holding something in his fist. He holds his fist out, so I hold up my palm.
He slides in behind me, and I scoot back against his chest again, then put the earplugs in. I close my eyes and lean my head back against his shoulder. He wraps his arms around me and picks up his guitar, pulling it against my chest. I can feel his head rest lightly against mine, and the intimate way we’re seated suddenly registers. I’ve never sat like this with someone I wasn’t seriously dating.
It’s odd, because it seems so natural with him. Not at all as if he’s got anything other than music on his mind. I like that about him, because if I were pressed up against Amit like this, I’m positive his hands wouldn’t be on the guitar.
I can feel his arms moving slightly, so I know he’s playing, even though I can’t hear it. I concentrate on the vibration and focus all my attention on the movement inside my chest. When I’m able to pinpoint exactly where I feel it, I bring my hand to my chest and pat it. I can feel him nod his head, and then he continues playing.
I can still feel it in my chest, but it’s much lower this time. I move my hand down, and he nods again.
I pull away from him and turn around to face him.
He lifts his shoulders and smiles shyly. It’s adorable.
Me: This is crazy. I still don’t understand how you can play an instrument like this, but I know how you feel it now.
He shrugs off my compliment, and I love how modest he is, because he clearly has more talent than anyone I’ve ever met.
“Wow,” I say again, shaking my head.
Lakshya: Stop. I don’t like compliments. It’s awkward.
I set down my phone and we both move back to the laptops.
Me: Well, you shouldn’t be so impressive, then. I don’t think you realize what an incredible gift you have, Lakshya. I know you say you work hard at it, but so do thousands of people who can hear, and they can’t put together songs like you can. I mean, I can maybe understand the whole guitar thing now that you’ve explained it, but what about the voices? How in the heck can you know what a voice sounds like and what key it needs to be in?
Lakshya: Actually, I can’t differentiate the sounds of a voice. I’ve never felt a person sing the way I “listen” to a guitar. I can place vocals to a song and develop melodies because I’ve studied a lot of songs and have learned which keys match up to which notes, based on the written form of music. It doesn’t just come naturally. I work hard at this. I love the idea of music, and even though I can’t hear it, I’ve learned to understand and appreciate it in a different way. I’ve had to work harder at the melodies. There are times I’ll write a song, and Sanskar will tell me we can’t use it because it either sounds too much like an existing song or it doesn’t actually sound good to hearing ears like I assumed it would.
He can downplay this all he wants, but I’m convinced I’m sitting next to a musical genius. I hate that he thinks his ability comes from working so hard at it. I mean, I’m sure it helps, because all talents have to be nurtured in order to excel, even for the gifted. But his talent is mind-blowing. It makes me hurt for him, knowing what he could do with his gift if he could hear.
Me: Can you hear anything? At all?
He shakes his head.
Lakshya: I’ve worn hearing aids before, but they were more inconvenient than helpful. I have profound hearing loss, so they didn’t help at all when it came to hearing voices or my guitar. When I used them, I could tell there were noises, but I couldn’t decipher them. In all honesty, hearing aids were a constant reminder that I couldn’t hear. Without them, I don’t even think about.
Me: What made you want to learn guitar, knowing you would never be able to hear it?
Lakshya: Sanskar. He wanted to learn when we were kids, so we learned together.
Me: The guy who used to live here? How long have you known him?
Lakshya: 21 years. He’s my little brother.
Me: Is he in your band?
Lakshya glances at me in confusion.
Lakshya: Have I not told you about our band?
I shake my head.
Lakshya: He’s the singer. He also plays guitar.
Me: When do you play next? I want to watch.
Lakshya: I don’t play. It’s kind of complicated. Sanskar insists that I have as much stake in the ownership of the band as he does because I write the majority of the music, which is why I refer to myself as being part of the band sometimes. I think it’s ridiculous, but he’s convinced we wouldn’t be where we are at this point without me, so I agree to it for now. But with the success I think he’s about to have, I’ll make him renegotiate eventually. I don’t like feeling as though I’m taking advantage of him.
Me: If he doesn’t feel that way, then you definitely shouldn’t feel that way. And why don’t you play with them?
Lakshya: I have a few times. It’s kind of difficult, not being able to hear everything else going on with the band during a song, so I feel like I throw them off when I play with them. Besides, they’re on tour right now, and I can’t travel, so I’ve just been sending him the stuff I write.
Me: Why can’t you tour with them? Don’t you work from home?
Lakshya: Other obligations. But next time they’re in Mumbai, I’ll take you.
I’ll take you. I think I like that part of his message a little too much.
Me: What’s the name of the band?
I slam my laptop shut and swing my eyes to his. “Shut up!”
He nods, then reaches down and opens my laptop again.
Lakshya: You’ve heard of us?
Me: Yes. Everyone on campus has heard of your band, considering they played almost every single weekend last year. Vikrant loves you guys.
Lakshya: Ah. Well, this is the first time I’ve ever wished we had one less fan. So you’ve seen Sanskar play?
Me: I only went with Vikrant once, and it was one of the last shows, but yes. I think I may have most of the songs on my phone, actually.
Lakshya: Wow. Small world. We are close to a record deal. That’s why I’ve been stressing so much about these songs. And why you need to help me.
Me: OMG! I just realized I’m writing lyrics for PETRICHOR!!!
I slide my laptop over, then roll onto my stomach and squeal into the mattress while I kick my legs up and down.
Holy crap! This is too cool.
I compose myself, ignoring Lakshya’s laughter, then sit up straight again and grab my laptop.
Me: So you wrote most of those songs?
I seriously can’t believe this is happening right now. Knowing he wrote those lyrics and now I’m sitting here next to him is exciting me way too much.
Me: I’m about to listen to your song. Since you get to decipher my lyrics, it’s my turn to decipher yours.
Lakshya: I wrote those songs two years ago.
Me: Still. It came from you. From somewhere inside you, Lakshya. 😉
He picks up a pillow and throws it at my head. I laugh and scroll through the music folder on my phone until I find the song, and I hit play.
When the song ends, I sit back up on the bed. I would ask him about the lyrics and the meaning behind them right now, but I’m not sure I want to. I want to listen to it again without him watching me, because it’s really hard to concentrate when he’s staring at me. He’s resting his chin in his hands, casually watching me. I try to hide my grin, but it’s hard. I see a smile spread across his lips before he looks down at his phone.
Lakshya: Why do I feel like you’re fangirling right now?
Probably because I am.
Me: I’m not fangirling. Don’t flatter yourself. I’ve witnessed how evil you can be with your revenge schemes, and I’ve been exposed to your severe alcoholism, so I’m not as enamoured with you as I could be.
Lakshya: My father was a severe alcoholic. Your jokes are a little off-putting.
I look up at him apologetically and with a hint of embarrassment. “I’m sorry. I was kidding.”
Lakshya: I’m kidding, too.
I kick him in the knee and glare at him.
Lakshya: Well, sort of kidding. My father really is a raging alcoholic, but I don’t give a shit if you joke about it.
Me: I can’t now. You ruined the fun.
He laughs, and it’s followed by an awkward moment of silence. I grin and drop my eyes back to my phone.
Me: OMG. Can I have your autograph?
He rolls his eyes.
Me: Please? And can I have my picture taken with you? OMG, I’m in Lakshya Maheshwari’s bed!
I’m laughing, but Lakshya isn’t finding me amusing.
Me: Lakshya Maheshwari, will you sign my chest?
He puts his laptop down beside him, leans over to his nightstand and picks up a marker, then turns back to me.
I don’t really want his autograph. Surely he knows I’m kidding.
He pulls the lid off the marker, swiftly lunges across the bed, and knocks me onto my back, bringing the marker to my forehead.
He’s trying to sign my face?
I lift my legs and create a barrier with my knees as I try to force his hands away.
Dammit, he’s strong.
He puts one of my hands under his knee and locks my arm to the bed. His other arm grabs my arm that’s pushing his face away, and he pushes that hand to the bed, too. I’m screaming and laughing and trying to turn my face away from him, but every time I move, the marker moves over my face while he tries to sign his name.
I’m unable to overpower him, so I eventually sigh and hold my head still so he’ll stop drawing all over my face.
He hops up, puts the lid back on the marker, and smirks at me.
I reach over to my laptop.
Ragini: You are no longer my prank master. This has officially turned into a three-way war. Excuse me while I go Google my revenge.
I fold up my laptop and walk quietly out of the room while he laughs at me. As I head through the living room toward my bedroom, Amit glances at me. Twice.
“Should have stayed in here and watched p**n with me,” he says, taking in the marker all over my face.
I ignore his comment. “Lakshya and I just finished discussing TV rules,” I lie. “I get Thursdays.”
“No, you don’t,” Amit says. “Tomorrow is Thursday. I watch Thursday-night p**n on Thursday.”
“Not anymore you don’t. Guess you should have asked about my television habits when you were interviewing me.”
He groans. “Fine. You can have Thursdays, but only if you wear that dress you had on earlier.”
I laugh. “I’m burning that dress.”
“Why’d you give Ragini the TV tonight?” Amit signs. He drops onto the couch next to me. “You know I love Thursday night. I’m off work on Fridays.”
“I never talked to Ragini about TV nights.”
He glances toward Ragini’s bedroom door with a scowl on his face. “What a little liar. How did you meet her, anyway?”
“Music-related. She’s writing lyrics for the band.”
Amit’s eyes bulge, and he straightens up on the couch, turning to look at me as if I’ve just betrayed him.
“Don’t you think this is something your manager should know about?”
I laugh and sign back to him. “Good point. Hey, Amit, Ragini is officially writing lyrics for us.”
He frowns. “And don’t you think your manager should have discussed a financial arrangement with her? What percentage are we giving her?”
“We’re not. She feels guilty taking a percentage while she’s not paying rent, so we’re good for now.”
He’s standing now, glaring down at me. “How do you know you can trust her? And what if something happens with a song she helped write? What if it makes the cut on the album and she suddenly decides she wants a percentage? And why the hell aren’t you writing the lyrics anymore?”
I sigh. We’ve been over this so many times it’s making my head hurt. “I can’t. You know I can’t. It’s just for a little while, until I get over my block. And calm down, she’s agreed to sign over anything she helps with.”
He drops back onto the couch, frustrated. “Just don’t add any more people to our band without consulting me first, okay? I feel like I’m being shut out when you don’t include me.” He folds his arms across his chest and pouts.
“Is sweet little Amit pouting?” I lean forward and wrap my arms around him, and he tries to shove me off. I climb on top of him and kiss his cheek, and he starts hitting me in the arm, trying to pull away from my grasp. I laugh and let go of his face, then look up at Ragini, who just walked into the room. She’s staring at us. Amit slides his hand up my thigh and lays his head on my shoulder. I reach up and pat his cheek while we both stare up at her, straight-faced. She shakes her head slowly and walks back into her bedroom.
As soon as her bedroom door closes, we separate.
“I wish I hated Radhika a little more than I do at night, because Ragini definitely needs me,” Amit signs.
I laugh, knowing Ragini is more than likely swearing off guys based on the week she’s had. “That girl doesn’t need anything other than the opportunity to be alone for a while.”
Amit shakes his head. “No, that girl definitely needs me. I wonder how I can pull off an elaborate prank that involves her agreeing to have s*x with me.”
“Radhika,” I remind him. I don’t know why I remind him. I never remind him about Radhika when he talks about other girls.
“You’re a dream crusher,” he signs, falling back against the couch at the same moment I receive a text.
Ragini: Can I ask you a question?
Me: As long as you promise never again to start a question off with whether or not you can propose a question.
Ragini: Okay, asshole. I know I shouldn’t be thinking about him at all, but I’m curious. What did he write on that paper when we went to get my purse? And what did you write back that made him hit you?
Me: I agree that you shouldn’t be thinking about him at all, but I’m honestly shocked it’s taken you this long to ask me about it.
Ugh. I hate writing it verbatim, but she wants to know, so . . .
Me: He wrote, “Are you f**king her?”
Ragini: OMG! What a prick!
Ragini: So what did you say back to him that made him punch you?
Me: I wrote, “Why do you think I’m here for her purse? I gave her a thousand for tonight, and now she owes me change.”
I reread the text, and I’m not so sure it sounds as funny as I thought it did.
My eyes dart up to her bedroom door, which is now swinging open. She runs into the living room, directly toward the couch. I don’t know if it’s the look on her face or the hands that are coming at me, but I immediately cover my head and duck behind Amit. He doesn’t really like being used as a human shield, though, so he jumps off the couch. She continues slapping at my arms until I’m curled up in a foetal position on the couch. I’m trying not to laugh, but she hits like a girl. This is nothing compared to what I saw her do to Kritika.
She backs away, and I reluctantly uncover my head. She marches back to her room, and I watch as she slams her door.
Amit is now standing next to the couch with his hands on his hips. He looks at me, then looks back at Ragini’s door. He puts his palms up and shakes his head, then retreats into his bedroom.
I should probably apologize to her. It was just a joke, but I guess I can see how it would piss her off. I knock on her door a couple of times. She doesn’t open it, so I text her.
Me: Can I come in?
Ragini: That depends. Do you have any notes smaller than thousand this time?
Me: It seemed funny at the time. I’m sorry.
A few seconds pass, and then her door opens and she steps aside. I raise my eyebrows and smile, attempting to look innocent. She shoots me a dirty look and walks back to her bed.
Ragini: It wasn’t what I would have wanted you to say, but I can see why you said it. He’s a jerk, and I probably would have wanted to piss him off in that moment, too.
Me: He is a jerk, but I probably should have responded differently. I’m sorry.
Ragini: Yes, you should have. Maybe instead of insinuating that I was a whore, you could have gone with “If I could only be so lucky.”
I laugh at her comment, then offer up another alternative answer.
Me: I could have gone with “Only when you’re being faithful to her. Which is never.”
Ragini: Or you could have said, “No, I’m not. I’m madly in love with Amit.”
At least she’s making jokes about it. I really do feel sort of bad for saying that to him, but it felt oddly appropriate at the time.
Me: We didn’t really get any work done last night. Are you in the mood to make beautiful music together?
Lakshya puts down his guitar for the first time in more than an hour. We haven’t texted at all, because we’ve been on a roll. It’s pretty cool how well we seem to work together. He plays a song over and over while I lie across his bed with a notebook in front of me. I write down the lyrics as they come to me, most of the time crumpling up the paper, chucking it across the room, and starting over. But I’ve laid out lyrics for almost an entire song tonight, and he’s only crossed out two lines he didn’t like. I’d say that’s progress.
There’s something about these moments when we’re writing music that I absolutely love. All my worries and thoughts about everything wrong in my life seem to go away for the short times we write together. It’s nice.
Lakshya: Let’s do the whole song now. Sit up so I can watch you sing it. I want to make sure we have it perfect before I send it to Sanskar.
He starts playing the song, so I begin singing. He’s watching me closely, and the way his eyes seem to read my every movement makes me uneasy. Maybe it’s because he can’t express words through speaking, but everything else about him seems to make up for that.
As easy as he is to read, it’s only that way when he wants to be read. Most of the time, he’s able to hold back his expressions, and I don’t know what the hell he’s thinking. He holds the crown in the nonverbal department. I’m pretty sure that with the looks he gives, if he could speak, he’d never even have to.
I feel uncomfortable watching him watch me sing, so I close my eyes and try to recall the lyrics as he continues to play the song. It’s awkward singing them with him only a few feet away. When I wrote the lyrics the first time, he was playing his guitar but was a good two hundred metres away on his balcony. Still, though, as much as I tried to pretend I was writing them about Vikrant at the time, I knew I was imagining Lakshya singing them all along.
His guitar stops, so naturally, I stop. I open my eyes, and he’s watching me with one of his expressionless expressions.
I take that back. This expression isn’t expressionless at all. He’s thinking. I can tell by the squint in his eyes that he’s coming up with an idea.
He glances away in order to pick up his phone.
Lakshya: Do you mind if I try something?
Me: As long as you promise never again to propose a question by asking if I mind if you can try something.
Lakshya: Nice try, but that made no sense.
I laugh, then look up at him. I nod softly, scared of what he’s about to “try.” He sits up on his knees and leans forward, placing both hands on my shoulders. I attempt to hold in my gasp, but it’s a failed attempt. I don’t know what he’s doing or why he’s getting so close to me, but holy crap.
Why is my heart spazzing out right now?
He pushes me until I’m flat on his mattress. He reaches behind him and picks up his guitar, then lays it on the other side of me. He lies down next to me.
Calm down, heart. Please. Lakshya has supersonic senses, and he’ll feel you beating through the vibrations of the mattress.
Lakshya scoots closer to me and by the way he’s hesitating, it makes me think he’s unsure if I’ll allow him any closer.
I will. I absolutely will.
He’s staring at me now, contemplating his next move. I can tell he’s not about to make a pass at me. Whatever he’s about to do is making him way more apprehensive than if he were just planning to kiss me. He’s eyeing my neck and chest as if he’s searching for a particular part of me. His eyes stop on my abdomen, pause, then fall back to his phone.
Oh, Lord. What is he about to do? Put his hands on me? Does he want to feel me sing this song? Feeling requires touching, and touching requires hands. His hands. Feeling me.
Lakshya: Do you trust me?
Me: I don’t trust anyone anymore. My trust has been completely depleted this week.
Lakshya: Can you replenish your trust for about five minutes? I want to feel your voice.
I inhale, then look at him—lying next to me—and I nod. He sets down his phone without breaking my gaze. He’s watching me as if he’s warning me to stay calm, but it’s having the exact opposite effect. I’m sort of panicked right now.
He scoots closer and slides his arm under the back of my neck.
Now he’s even closer.
Now his face is hovering over mine. He reaches across my body and pulls the guitar flush against my side, bringing it closer to us. He’s still eyeing me with a look that seems intended to produce a calming effect.
It doesn’t. It doesn’t calm me down at all.
He lowers his head to my chest, then presses his cheek against my shirt.
Oh, this is great. Now he definitely feels how spastic my heart is beating right now. I close my eyes and want to die of embarrassment, but I don’t have time for that, because he begins strumming the strings of the guitar next to me. I realize he’s playing with both hands, one from underneath my head and one over me. His head is against my chest, and I can feel his hair brush my neck. He’s pretty much sprawled across me in order to reach his guitar with both arms.
Oh, my dear God.
How does he expect me to sing?
I try to calm down by regulating my breathing, but it’s hard when we’re positioned like this. As usual when I miss an intro, he seamlessly starts the song over again from the beginning. When he reaches the point where I come in, I begin singing. Sort of. It’s really quiet, because I’m still waiting for air to find its way back into my lungs.
After the first few lines, I find a steadiness to my voice. I close my eyes and do my best to imagine I’m simply sitting up on his bed right now the way I have been for the last hour.
He finishes the last chord but doesn’t move. His hands remain stilled on his guitar. His ear remains firmly pressed against my chest. My breaths are heavier now that I’ve just sung an entire song, and his head rises with each intake of air.
He sighs a deep sigh, then lifts his head and rolls onto his back without making eye contact with me. We sit in silence for a few minutes. I’m not sure why he’s being so unresponsive, but I’m too nervous to make any sudden movements. His arm is still underneath me, and he’s making no effort to remove it, so I’m not even sure if he’s finished with this little experiment yet.
I’m also not sure I’d even be able to move.
Ragini, Ragini, Ragini. What are you doing?
I absolutely, positively, do not want to be having this reaction right now. It’s been a week since I broke up with Vikrant. The very last thing I want—or even need—is to develop a crush on this guy.
However, I’m thinking that may have happened before this week.
I tilt my head and look at him. He’s watching me, but I can’t tell what his face is trying to convey. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s thinking, Oh, hey, Ragini. Our mouths sure are close together. Let’s do them a favour and close this gap.
His eyes drop to my mouth, and I’m incredibly impressed with my telepathic abilities. His full lips are slightly parted as he quietly takes in several slow, deep breaths.
I can actually hear him breathing, which surprises me, because that’s another of his sounds that he keeps complete and total control over. I like that he can’t seem to control it right now. As much as I claim to want to be unattached from guys and independent and strong, the only thing I’m thinking is how much I wish he would take complete and total control over me. I want him to dominate this situation by rolling on top of me and forcing that incredible mouth onto mine, rendering me completely dependent on him for breath.
My phone receives a text, interrupting my clearly overactive imagination. Lakshya closes his eyes and turns to face the opposite direction. I sigh, knowing he didn’t even hear the text, so turning away was of his own accord. Which means I’m feeling pretty awkward right now for just having that rich internal dialogue sweep through my mind. I reach behind my head and feel around until I find my phone.
Vikrant: Are you ready to talk yet?
I roll my eyes. Way to ruin the moment, Vikrant. I was hoping that after days of avoiding his texts and phone calls, he would finally get a clue. I shake my head and text him back.
Me: Your behaviour is bordering on harassment. Stop contacting me. We’re done.
Stop with the guilt trip, Lakshya. You didn’t do anything wrong. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Your heart is beating like this simply because you’ve never felt anyone sing before. It was overwhelming. You had a normal reaction to an overwhelming event. That’s all.
My eyes are still closed, and my arm is still underneath her. I should move it, but I’m still trying to recover.
And I really want to hear another song.
This might be making her uncomfortable, but I have to get her to push through her discomfort, because I can’t think of any other situation where I’ll be able to do this.
Me: Can I play another one?
She’s holding her phone, texting someone who’s not me. I wonder if she’s texting Vikrant, but I don’t peek at her phone, as much as I want to.
Ragini: Okay. The first one didn’t do anything for you?
I laugh. I think it did a little too much, in more ways than I’d like to admit. I’m almost positive it was also obvious to her by the end of the song, with the way I was pressed against her. But feeling her voice and what it was doing to all the other parts of me was way more important than what she was doing to me.
Me: I’ve never “listened” to anyone like that before. It was incredible. I don’t even know how to describe it. I mean, you were here, and you were the one singing, so I guess you don’t really need me to describe it. But I don’t know. I wish you could have felt that.
Ragini: You’re welcome, I guess. I’m not really doing anything profound here.
Me: I’ve always wanted to feel someone sing one of my songs, but it would be a little awkward doing this with one of the guys in the band. Know what I mean?
She laughs, then nods.
Me: I’ll play the one we practiced last night, and then I want to play this last one again. Are you okay? If you’re tired of singing, just tell me.
Ragini: I’m good.
She lays down her phone, and I reposition myself against her chest. My entire body is battling itself. My left brain is telling me this is somehow wrong, my right brain is wanting to hear her sing again, my stomach is nowhere to be found, and my heart is punching itself in the face with one arm and hugging itself with the other.
I might never have this opportunity again, so I wrap my arm over her and begin playing. I close my eyes and search for the beat of her heart, which has slowed down some since the first song. The vibration of her voice meets my cheek, and I swear my heart flinches. She feels the way I imagined a voice would feel during a song but multiplied by a thousand. I focus on how her voice blends with the vibration of the guitar, and I’m in complete awe.
I want to “hear” the range of her voice, but it’s hard without using my hands to feel it. I pull my hand away from the guitar and stop playing. Just like that, she stops singing. I shake my head no and motion a circle in the air with my finger, wanting her to keep singing even though I’m no longer playing the chords.
Her voice picks back up, and I keep my ear pressed firmly to her chest while I lay my palm flat against her stomach. Her muscles clench beneath my hand, but she doesn’t stop singing. I can feel her voice everywhere. I can feel it in my head, in my chest, against my hand.
I relax against her and listen to the sound of a voice for the very first time.
• • •
I wrap my arm around Ananya’s waist and pull her in closer. I can feel her struggling beneath me, so I pull her even tighter. I’m not ready for her to go home yet. Her hand smacks my forehead, and she’s lifting me off her chest as she attempts to wiggle out from beneath me.
I roll onto my back to let her off the bed, but instead, she’s slapping my cheeks. I open my eyes and look up to see Ragini hovering over me. Her mouth is moving, but my vision is too fogged over to see what she’s trying to say. Not to mention that the strobe light isn’t helping.
Wait. I don’t have a strobe light.
I sit straight up on the bed. Ragini hands me my phone and begins to text me, but my phone is dead. Did we fall asleep?
The lights. The lights are going on and off.
I grab Ragini’s phone out of her hand and check the time: 8:15 A.M. I also read the text she just tried to send me.
Ragini: Someone’s at your bedroom door.
Amit wouldn’t be up this early on a Friday. It’s his day off.
I hurriedly jump off the bed and grab Ragini’s wrists, then swing her to her feet. She looks shocked that I’m panicking, but she needs to get the hell back to her room. I open the bathroom door and motion for her to take that route. She walks into the bathroom, then turns and heads back into my bedroom. I grab her by the shoulders and force her back into the bathroom. She slaps my hands away and points into my bedroom.
“I want my phone!” she says, pointing toward my bed. I retrieve her phone, but before I hand it to her, I type a text on it.
Me: I’m sorry, but I think that’s Ananya. You can’t be in here, or she’ll get the wrong idea.
I hand her the phone, and she reads the text, then looks back up at me. “Who’s Ananya?”
Who’s Ananya? How the hell can she not remember . . .
Is it possible I’ve never mentioned Ananya to her before?
I grab her phone again.
Me: My girlfriend.
She looks at the text, and her jaw tightens. She slowly brings her eyes back to mine, and she snatches the phone out of my hand, grabs the doorknob, and steps back into the bathroom. The door closes in my face.
So was not expecting that reaction.
But I don’t have time to respond, because my light is still flickering. I head straight to the bedroom door and unlock it, then open it.
Amit is standing in the doorway with his arm pressed against the frame. There’s no sign of Ananya.
My panic instantly subsides as I walk backward and fall onto my bed. That could have been ugly. I glance up at Amit, because he’s obviously here for something.
“Why aren’t you answering my texts?” he signs from the doorway.
“My phone died.” I reach over to my phone and place it on the charging base on the nightstand.
“But you never let your phone die.”
“First time for everything,” I sign.
He nods his head, but it’s an annoying, suspicious, You’re hiding something kind of nod.
Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.
“You’re hiding something,” he signs.
Or maybe I’m not being paranoid.
“And I just checked Ragini’s room.” He arches a suspicious brow. “She wasn’t in there.”
I glance to the bathroom, then look back at Amit, wondering if I should even lie about it. All we did was fall asleep. “I know. She was in here.”
He holds his stern expression. “All night?”
I nod casually. “We were working on lyrics. I guess we fell asleep.”
He’s acting strange. If I didn’t know him better, I’d think he was jealous. Wait. I do know him better. He is jealous.
“Does this bother you, Amit?”
He shrugs and signs back. “Yeah. A little.”
“Why? You spend almost every night in Radhika’s bed.”
He shakes his head. “It’s not that.”
“What is it, then?”
He breaks his gaze, and I can see the discomfort cross his face before he exhales. He makes the sign that indicates Ananya’s name. He brings his eyes back to mine. “You can’t do this, Lakshya. Just be careful and don’t be unfair to her.”
I wince, because it kind of pisses me off how he’s referring to mine and Ananya’s relationship.
His expression grows apologetic. “You know what I mean, Lakshya.”
I stand and walk toward him. “How long have we been best friends?”
He shrugs. “That’s all I am to you? A best friend? Lakshya, I thought we were so much more than that.” He smirks as if he’s trying to be funny, but I don’t laugh. When he sees how much his remarks have bothered me, his expression quickly sobers. “Ten years.”
“Ten. Ten years. You know me better than that, Amit.”
He nods, but his face is still full of doubt.
“Good-bye,” I sign. “Shut the door on your way out.” I turn and walk back to my bed, and when I face the door again, he’s gone.