Its the holiday season and i am in the mood to give surprises..So SURPRISE!!!! Another update 😀
Now, on a more serious note. This update might get a little confusing in the end, so i thought i should clarify things before hand. Lakshya and Ananya’s relationship has nothing wrong in it for him to cheat on her, they have a history, there’s a reason he’s with her and he cares for her so deeply and that reason will be unveiled in the future episodes. Some of you might say that Lakshya and Ragini have become Vikrant and Kritika.
On the face of it it does seem that way, but there is more to it than what is visible, Love is not that simple, sometimes you need to break something to make way for better things in the future, so there is pain and alot of it, but in the end it will all be worth it, i assure you this is needed for the story to move forward, to ties the loose ends of Lakshya and Ananya’s relationship.
Link to the previous episode : Episode 8
He’s not looking at me. He doesn’t even know I’m not singing the lyrics. I can’t sing them. I’ve listened to him play this song dozens of times from his balcony, yet it never held emotion or meaning until this moment.
The fact that he can’t even look at me makes the song feel way too personal. It feels as if this song somehow just became his song to me. I turn the notebook over, not wanting to read the words anymore. This song is just one more thing that never should have happened, even though I’m positive it’s my new favourite.
Me: Do you think Sanskar can make a rough cut of this one? I want to hear it.
I nudge him with my foot after I send the text, then nod toward his phone when he looks at me. He picks it up to read the text and nods. He doesn’t reply or make eye contact with me, though. I glance back down to my phone as the room grows quiet in the absence of the sound of his guitar. I don’t like how awkward things just got between us, so I attempt to make small talk to fill the void. I roll onto my back and type out a question that’s been on my mind for a while to break up the stillness around us.
Me: Why don’t you ever practice on your balcony like you used to?
This question gets me immediate eye contact from him, but it doesn’t last. His eyes flicker across my face, down my body, and finally back to his phone.
Lakshya: Why would I? You’re not out there anymore.
And just like that, my defences are down, and my willpower is shot to hell with his honest reply. I nervously pull my bottom lip in and chew on it, then slowly raise my eyes back to his. He’s looking at me as if he wishes he were a guy like Vikrant who cared only about himself.
He’s not the only one wishing that.
I want to be Kritika right now so much it hurts. I want to be just like her and not give a shit about my self-respect or about Ananya for just a few minutes. Long enough to allow him to do everything his lyrics make clear he wants to do.
His eyes fall to my lips, and my mouth runs dry.
His eyes fall to my chest, and it begins to heave deeper than it already was.
His eyes fall to my legs, and I have to cross them, because the way his gaze penetrates my body makes it seem as though he can see right through this dress I’m wearing.
His eyes close tightly, and knowing the effect I’m having on him makes me feel as if there might be a lot more truth to his lyrics than he’d like there to be.
It’s making me feel like I want to be the only man that you ever see.
Lakshya suddenly stands and drops his phone onto the bed, then walks straight into the bathroom and slams the door. I listen as the shower curtain slides open and the water kicks on.
I roll onto my back and release all my pent-up breaths. I’m flustered and confused and angry. I don’t like the situation we’ve put ourselves in, and I know for a fact that even though we haven’t acted on it, nothing about this is innocent.
I sit up on the bed, then quickly stand. I need to get out of his room before it completely closes in on me. Just as I’m walking away from the bed, Lakshya’s phone vibrates on the mattress. I look down at it.
Ananya: I’m missing you extra hard today. When you’re finished writing with Ragini, can we video chat? I need to see you. 😉
I stare at her text.
I hate her text.
I hate that she knows we were just writing together.
I hate that he tells her everything.
I want these moments to belong to me and Lakshya and no one else.
• • •
It’s been two hours since he got out of the shower, and I can’t bring myself to leave my bedroom. I’m starving, though, and really want to go to the kitchen. I just don’t want to see him, because I hate how we left things. I don’t like that we both know we almost crossed a line tonight.
Actually, I don’t like that we did cross a line tonight. Although we aren’t verbalizing what we’re thinking and feeling, writing it in lyrics isn’t any less harmful.
There’s a knock on my door, and knowing that it’s more than likely Lakshya causes my heart to betray me by dancing rapidly in my chest. I don’t bother getting up to open the door, because he nudges it open right after knocking. He holds up a set of headphones and his cell phone, indicating that he has something he wants me to hear. I nod, and he walks over to the bed and hands them to me. He hits play but takes a seat on the floor while I scoot back onto the bed. The song begins to play, and I spend the next three minutes barely breathing. Lakshya and I never once break our stare throughout the duration of the song.
Ananya: Guess who gets to see me tomorrow?
Me: Akshay Kumar?
Ananya: Guess again.
Me: Ranbir Kapoor?
Ananya: No, but close.
Me: Deepika Padukone?
Ananya: You’re so random. YOU get to see me tomorrow, and you get to spend a whole two days with me.
Me: How did I ever get so lucky to find the one and only girl who knows how to surprise me at the right time?
Ananya: I ask myself that same question every day.
Me: What time do I get to see you?
Ananya: Well, it all depends on the dreaded T word again.
Me: Ah. Yes. Well, we shall discuss it no further. Try to be here by six, at least. Amit’s birthday party is tomorrow night, and I want to spend time with you before all his crazy friends get here.
Ananya: Thank you for reminding me! What should I get him?
Me: Nothing. Ragini and I are pulling the ultimate prank. We told everyone to donate to charity in lieu of gifts. He’ll be pissed when people start handing him all the donation cards in his honour.
Ananya: You two are evil. Should I bring something? A cake, maybe?
Me: Nope, we got it. We felt bad for the “no gifts” prank, so we’re about to bake him five different flavoured cakes to make up for it.
Ananya: Make sure one of them is German chocolate.
Me: Already got you covered, babe. I love you.
Ananya: Love you, too.
I close out our texts and open up the unread one I have from Ragini.
Ragini: You forgot vanilla extract, dumbass. It was on the list. Item 5. Now you have to go back to the store.
Me: Maybe next time you should write more legibly and return my texts when I’m at the grocery store, attempting to decipher item 5. I’ll be back in 20. Preheat the oven and text me if you think of anything else.
I laugh, put my phone into my pocket, grab my keys, and head to the store. Again.
• • •
We’re on cake number three. I’m beginning to believe that those who are musically gifted seriously lack talent in the kitchen-skills department. Ragini and I work really well together when it comes to writing music, but our lack of finesse and knowledge when it comes to mixing a few ingredients together is a little pathetic.
She insisted that we bake the cakes from scratch, whereas I would have grabbed the boxed mixes. But it’s been kind of fun, so I’m not complaining.
She places the third cake in the oven and sets the timer. She turns around and mouths “thirty minutes,” then pushes herself up onto the counter.
Ragini: Is your little brother coming tomorrow?
Me: They’re going to try. They open for a band in Pune at seven tomorrow night, so as long as they get loaded up on time, they should be here by ten.
Ragini: The whole band? I get to meet the whole band?
Me: Yep. And I bet they’ll even sign your shirt.
Me: If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.
Ragini: How did y’all come up with the band name Petrichor?
Any time anyone’s asked how I came up with the name of the band, I just say I thought it sounded cool. But I can’t lie to Ragini. There’s something about her that pulls stories about my childhood out of me that I’ve never told anyone. Not even Ananya.
Ananya has asked in the past why I never speak out loud and where I came up with the name of the band, but I don’t like to bring up anything negative that might cause her even the smallest amount of concern. She’s got enough to deal with in her own life. She doesn’t need to add my childhood issues to that. They’re in the past and there’s no need to bring it up.
However, Ragini’s a different story. She seems so curious about me, about life, about people in general. It’s easy to tell her things.
Ragini: Uh-oh. Looks like I need to prepare myself for a good story, because you look like you don’t want to answer that.
I turn around until my back is pressed against the countertop she’s sitting on, and I lean against it.
Me: You just love the heart-wrenching stuff, huh?
Ragini: Yep. Give it to me.
Ananya, Ananya, Ananya.
I often find myself repeating Ananya’s name when I’m with Ragini. Especially when Ragini says things like “Give it to me.”
The last couple of weeks have been okay since our talk. We’ve definitely had our moments, but one of us is usually quick to begin pointing out flaws and repulsive personality traits to get us back on track.
Aside from a couple of weeks ago, when our writing session ended with me having to take a cold shower, two nights ago was probably the hardest time of all for me. I don’t know what it is about the way she sings. I can simply be watching her, and I get the same feeling I get when I press my ear to her chest or rest my hand against her throat. She closes her eyes and starts singing the words, and the passion and feelings that pour from her are so powerful I sometimes forget I can’t even hear her.
This particular night, we were writing a song from scratch, and we couldn’t communicate well enough to understand it. I needed to hear her, and although we were both reluctant, it ended with my head pressed to her chest and my hand resting against her throat. While she was singing, she casually brought her hand to my hair and was twirling her fingers around.
I could have stayed in that position with her all night.
I would have, if every touch of her hand didn’t make me crave a little bit more. I finally had to tear myself away from her, but just being on the floor wasn’t enough separation. I wanted her so bad; it was all I could think about. I ended up asking her to tell me one of her flaws, and instead of giving me one, she stood up and left my bedroom.
The way she had been touching my hair was a very natural thing for her to do, considering the way we were positioned. It’s what a guy would do to his girlfriend if he were holding her against his chest, and it’s what a girl would do to her boyfriend if he were wrapped around her. But we aren’t those things.
The relationship we have is different from anything I’ve experienced. Mostly because we do have a lot of physical closeness based on the nature of writing music together and the fact that I have to use my sense of touch to replace my sense of hearing in some situations. So while we’re in those situations, the lines become muddy, and reactions become unintentional.
As much as I wish I could admit we’ve moved past our attraction for each other, I can’t deny that I feel mine growing with each day that passes. Being around her isn’t necessarily hard all the time, though. Just most of the time.
Whatever is going on between us, I know Ananya wouldn’t approve, and I try to do right by my relationship with her. However, since I can’t really define where the line is drawn between inappropriate and appropriate, it makes it hard to stay on the right side sometimes.
Like right now.
I’m staring down at my phone, about to text her, and she’s leaning behind me, both of her hands kneading the tension out of my shoulders. With as much writing as we’ve been doing and the fact that I sit on the floor now instead of the bed, I’ve had a few issues with my back. It’s become natural for her to rub it when she knows it’s hurting.
Would I let her do this when Ananya was in the room? Hell, no. Do I stop her? No. Should I? Absolutely.
I know without a doubt that I don’t want to cheat on Ananya. I’ve never been that type of guy, and I don’t ever want to be that type of guy. The problem is, I’m not thinking about Ananya when I’m with Ragini. The times I spend with Ragini are spent with Ragini, and nothing else crosses my mind. But the times I spend with Ananya are spent with Ananya. I don’t think about Ragini.
It’s as though times with Ananya and times with Ragini occur on two different planets. Planets that don’t intersect and in time zones that don’t overlap.
Until tomorrow, anyway.
We’ve all spent time together in the past, but not since I’ve been honest with myself about how I feel for Ragini. And although I would never want Ananya to know I’ve developed feelings for someone else, I’m worried she’ll be able to tell.
I tell myself that with enough effort, I can learn to control my feelings. But then Ragini will do or say something or give me a look, and I can literally feel the part of my heart that belongs to her getting fuller. As much as I want it to empty. I’m worried that feelings are the one thing in our lives that we have absolutely no control over.
Me: What’s taking you so long? Are you writing a damn book?
I don’t know if my rubbing his shoulders is putting him to sleep, but he’s been staring at his phone for five solid minutes.
Lakshya: Sorry. Lost in thought.
Me: I can see that. So, Petrichor?
Lakshya: It’s kind of a long story. Let me grab my laptop.
I open up our Facebook messages on my phone. When he returns, he leans against a counter several feet away from me. I’m aware of the fact that he’s put space between us, and it makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable, because I know I shouldn’t have been rubbing his shoulders. It’s too much, considering what’s happened between us in the past, but I feel as if it’s my fault his shoulders hurt in the first place.
He doesn’t really complain about what playing on the floor is doing to him, but I can tell it hurts sometimes. Especially after nights like last night, when we wrote for three hours straight. I asked him to start playing on the floor to help with the fact that things seem to be more difficult when he’s on the bed. If I didn’t still have such a huge crush on his guitar playing, it might not be as big a problem.
But I do still have a definite crush on his guitar playing. And I would say I have a definite crush on him, but crush doesn’t even begin to define it. I’m not even going to try to define how I feel about him, because I refuse to let my thoughts go there. Not now and not ever.
Lakshya: We had all been playing together for fun for about six months before we got our first real gig at a local restaurant. They needed us to give them the name of our band so they could put us on the schedule. We had never really considered ourselves an actual band before that, since it was all in fun, but that night, we agreed that maybe for local things like the restaurant, it would be good to have a name. We all took turns throwing out suggestions, but we couldn’t seem to agree on anything. At one point, Sanskar suggested we call ourselves Freak Frogs. I laughed. I told him it sounded like a punk band, that we needed a title with more of an acoustic sound. He got upset and said I shouldn’t really be allowed to comment on how music or titles sound, since, well, yay for lame deaf jokes from sixteen-year-old little brothers.
Anyway, Amit didn’t like how cocky Sanskar was back then, so he said I should choose the name and everyone had to agree on it. Sanskar got pissed and walked off, said he didn’t want to be in the band anyway. I knew he was just having a Sanskar tantrum. He didn’t have them often, but when he did have them, I understood. I mean, the kid had virtually no parents, and he was raising himself, so I thought he was pretty damn mature despite the sporadic tantrums. I told the guys I wanted to think on it for a while. I tried to come up with names that I thought would mean something to everyone, but mostly to Sanskar. I thought back on what got me into listening to music in the first place.
Sanskar was around two years old, and I was five. I’ve already shared to you all the qualities my parents possessed, so I won’t go back into that. But in addition to all their addictions, they also liked to party. They would send us to our rooms at night once all their friends began to arrive. I noticed that Sanskar was always wearing the same diapers when he woke up that he wore to bed. They never checked on him. Never fed him at night or changed him or even checked to see if he was breathing. This is probably something that had been occurring since he was an infant, but I didn’t really notice until I started school, because I think I was just too young. We weren’t allowed to leave our rooms at night. I don’t remember why I was too scared to leave my room, but I’m sure I’d been punished for it before, or it wouldn’t have bothered me. Our parents never took us out to the amusement parks or to a playground, we didn’t get a normal childhood. But the only fun time I remembers was during the rains. We had a terrace flat and we used to play of hours in the rain, we did fall ill, our maid was kind enough to care for us. Those were the only times we were in bliss, just before the monsoon would start, Sanskar would run to me and point at his nose, implying me to take a whiff of the wet soil that indicated the arrival of the first rain. That smile on his face was so calming. So, that’s where the name came from “Petrichor”
Beat, beat, pause.
I don’t even realize how on edge I am until I see the white in my knuckles as I grip my phone. We both remain still for several moments while I attempt to get the image of the five-year-old Lakshya out of my head.
Me: I guess Sanskar agreed once you told him the name, because how could he not appreciate that?
Lakshya: Sanskar doesn’t know that story; he was too young to remember anything. Once again, you’re the first person I’ve ever shared it with.
I lift my eyes back to his and inhale, but for the life of me, I can’t remember how to exhale. He’s a good three feet away, but I feel as if every single part of me that his eyes fall on is being directly touched by him. For the first time in a while, the fear etches its way back into my heart. Fear that one of these moments will be one neither of us can resist.
He sets his laptop on the counter and folds his arms across his chest. Before his eyes meet mine, his gaze falls on my legs, and then he slowly works his eyes up the entire length of my body. His eyes are narrow and focused. The way he’s looking at me makes me want to lunge for the freezer and crawl inside.
His eyes are fixed on my mouth, and he quietly swallows, then reaches beside him and picks up his phone.
Lakshya: Hurry, Rags. I need a serious flaw, and I need it now.
I force a smile, although my insides are screaming for me not to text him back a flaw. It’s as if my fingers are fighting with themselves as they fly over the screen in front of me.
Me: Sometimes when I’m frustrated with you, I wait until you look away, and then I yell mean things at you.
He laughs, then looks back up at me. “Thank you,” he silently mouths.
It’s the first time he’s ever mouthed words, and if he weren’t walking away from me right now, I’d be begging for him to do it again.
• • •
It’s after midnight, but we finally finish adding icing to the fifth and final cake. He cleans the last of the ingredients off the counter while I secure the Saran wrap around the cake pan and slide it next to the other four pans.
Lakshya: Do I finally get to meet the raging alcoholic side of you tomorrow night?
Me: I’m thinking you just might.
He grins and flips off the kitchen light. I walk to the living room to power off the TV. Amit and Radhika should come home sometime in the next hour, so I leave the lamp on in the living room.
Lakshya: Will it be weird for you?
Me: Being drunk? Nope. I’m pretty good at it.
Lakshya: No. I mean Ananya.
I look up at him where he’s standing in front of his bedroom door, watching his phone, not making eye contact with me. He looks nervous that he even asked the question.
Me: Don’t worry about me, Lakshya.
Lakshya: Can’t help it. I feel like I’ve put you in an awkward situation.
Me: You haven’t. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it would help if you weren’t so attractive, but I’m hoping Sanskar looks a lot like you. That way, when you’re shacking up with Ananya tomorrow night, I can have drunk, wild fun with your little brother.
I hit send, then immediately gasp. What the hell was I thinking? That wasn’t funny. It was supposed to be funny, but it’s after midnight, and I’m never funny after midnight.
Lakshya is still looking down at the screen on his phone. His jaw twitches, and he shakes his head slightly, then looks up at me as if I’ve just shot him through the heart. He drops his arm and runs his free hand through his hair, then turns to walk to his room.
I rush to him and put my hand on his shoulder, urging him to turn back around. He rolls his shoulder to brush my hand off but pauses, only partially turning to face me with a guarded expression. I step around to his front so he’s forced to look at me.
“I was kidding,” I say, slowly and very seriously. “I’m sorry.”
His face is still tense and hard and even a little disappointed, but he lifts his phone and begins texting again.
Lakshya: And therein lies the problem, Ragini. You should be able to screw whoever you want to screw, and I shouldn’t give a shit.
I suck in a breath. At first, it pisses me off, but then I focus in on the one word that reveals the entire truth behind his statement.
He didn’t say, “I don’t give a shit.” He said, “I shouldn’t give a shit.”
I look up at him, and his face is so full of pain it’s heartbreaking.
He doesn’t want to feel like this. I don’t want him to feel like this.
What the hell am I doing to him?
He runs both of his hands through his hair, looks up at the ceiling, and squeezes his eyes shut. He stands like this for a while, then exhales and drops his hands to his hips, lowering his eyes to the floor.
He feels so guilty he can’t even look at me.
Without making eye contact, he lifts an arm and grabs my wrist, then pulls me toward him. He crushes me to his chest, wraps one arm around my back, and curves his other hand against the back of my head. My arms are folded up and tucked between us while his cheek rests against the top of my head. He sighs heavily.
I don’t pull away from him in order to text him a flaw, because I don’t think he’s in need of one right now. The way he’s holding me is different, unlike all the times in the past few weeks when we’ve had to separate ourselves in order to breathe.
He’s holding me now as if I’m a part of him—a wounded extension of his heart—and he’s realizing just how much that extension needs to be severed.
We stand like this for several minutes, and I begin to get lost in the way he’s wrapped himself around me. The way he’s holding me gives me a glimpse of what things could be like between us. I try to push those two little words into the back of my head, the two words that always inch their way forward when we’re together.
The sound of keys hitting a counter behind me jerks me to attention. I pull back, and Lakshya does the same as soon as he feels my body flinch against his. He looks over my shoulder and toward the kitchen, so I spin around. Amit has just walked through the front door. His back is toward us, and he’s slipping off his shoes.
“I’m only going to say this once, and I need you to listen,” Amit says. He still isn’t facing us, but I’m the only one in the apartment who can hear him, so I know he’s directing his comment to me. “He will never leave her, Ragini.”
He walks to his bedroom without once looking over his shoulder, leaving Lakshya to believe he never even saw us. The door to Amit’s bedroom closes, and I turn back to face Lakshya. His eyes are still on Amit’s door. When they flick back to mine, they’re full of so many things I know he wishes he could say.
But he doesn’t. He just turns and walks into his room, closing the door behind him.
I remain completely motionless as two huge tears spill from my eyes, scarring their way down my cheeks in a trail of shame.
Sanskar: Got to love rain. Looks like I’ll be there early. I’m coming alone, though. The guys can’t make it.
Me: See you when you get here. Oh, and before you leave tomorrow, make sure you get all your shit out of Ragini’s room.
Sanskar: Will she be there? Do I finally get to meet the girl who was brought to this earth for us?
Me: Yeah, she’ll be here.
Sanskar: I can’t believe I’ve never asked this, but is she hot?
Me: Don’t even think about it. She’s been through too much shit to be added to your list of concubines.
Sanskar: Territorial, are we?
I toss my phone onto the bed and don’t even bother with a reply. If I make her too off-limits to him, it’ll just make him try that much harder with her.
When she made the joke last night about screwing him, she was just trying to add humor to the seriousness of the situation, but the way her text made me feel terrified me.
It wasn’t the fact that she texted about hooking up with someone. What terrified me was my knee-jerk reaction. I wanted to throw my phone against the wall and smash it into a million pieces, then throw her against the wall and show her all the ways I could ensure that she never thinks about another man again.
I didn’t like feeling that way. I probably should encourage Sanskar. Maybe it would be better for my relationship with Ananya if Ragini actually started dating someone else.
The wave of jealousy that just rolled over me felt more like a tsunami.
I walk out of my bedroom and head to the kitchen to help Ragini get things together for dinner before everyone gets here. I pause when I see her bent over, rummaging through the contents of the refrigerator. She’s wearing the blue dress again.
I hate it when Amit is right. My eyes slowly scroll from the dress, down her tanned legs, and back up again. I exhale and contemplate asking her to go change. I’m not sure I can deal with this tonight. Especially when Ananya gets here.
Ragini straightens up, pulls away from the refrigerator, and turns toward the counter. I notice she’s talking, but she isn’t talking to me. She pulls a bowl out of the refrigerator, and her mouth is still moving, so naturally, my eyes scan the rest of the apartment to see who it is she’s talking to.
And that’s when both halves of my heart—which were somehow still connected by a small, invisible fiber—snap apart and separate completely.
Ananya is standing in front of the bathroom door, eyeing me hard. I can’t read her expression, because it’s not one I’ve ever been exposed to before. The half of my heart that belongs to her immediately begins to panic.
Look innocent, Lakshya. Look innocent. All you did was look at her.
I smile. “There’s my girl,” I sign as I walk to her. The fact that I’m somehow able to hide my guilt seems to ease her concern. She smiles back and wraps her arms around my neck when I reach her. I slip my arms around her waist and kiss her for the first time in two weeks.
God, I’ve missed her. She feels so good. So familiar.
She smells good, she tastes good, she is good. I’ve missed her so damn much. I kiss her cheek and I love that I’m so relieved to have her here. For the past few days, I began to fear that I wouldn’t have this reaction the next time I saw her.
“I have to go really bad. Long drive.” She winces and points to the door behind her, and I give her another quick kiss. Once she’s inside the bathroom, I slowly turn back around to gauge Ragini’s reaction.
I’ve been as upfront and honest with Ragini as I can possibly be about my feelings for Ananya, but I know it’s not easy for her to see me with Ananya. There’s just no way around it. Do I compromise my relationship with Ananya to spare Ragini’s feelings? Or do I compromise Ragini’s feelings to spare my relationship with Ananya? Unfortunately, there’s no middle ground. No right choice. My actions are becoming split directly down the middle, just like my heart.
I face her, and our eyes meet briefly. She refocuses her attention down to the cake in front of her and inserts candles. When she finishes, she smiles and looks back up at me. She sees the concern in my expression, so she pats her chest and makes the “okay” sign with her hand.
She’s reassuring me that she’s fine. I practically have to pry myself away from her every night, and then I maul my girlfriend right in front of her—and she’s reassuring me?
Her patience and understanding with this whole screwed-up situation should make me happy, but they have the opposite effect. They disappoint me, because they make me like her that much more.
I can’t win for losing.
• • •
Oddly enough, Ananya and Ragini seem to be having fun together in the kitchen, prepping ingredients for a pot of chili. I couldn’t hang, so I retreated to my room and claimed I had a lot of work to catch up on. As good as Ragini is with this, I’m not as skilled. It was awkward for me every time Ananya would kiss me or sit on my lap or trail her fingers seductively up my chest. Which, come to think of it, was a bit odd. She’s never really all that touchy-feely when we’re hanging out, so she’s either feeling a tad bit territorial, or she and Ragini have already been hitting the Pine-Sol.
Ananya comes into the bedroom just as I’m shutting the laptop. She kneels down on the edge of the bed, leans forward, and inches her way toward me. She’s looking up at me with a flirtatious smile, so I set the laptop aside and smile back at her.
She crawls her way up my body until she’s face-to-face with me, and then she sits back on her heels, straddling me. She cocks an eyebrow and tilts her head. “You were checking out her ass.”
I was hoping that moment had come and gone.
I laugh and cup my hands around Ananya’s backside and scoot her a little closer. I let go and bring my hands back around in front of her and answer her. “I walked out of my room to a rear end pointed toward my bedroom door. I’m a guy. Guys notice things like that, unfortunately.” I kiss her mouth, then pull back.
She’s not smiling. “She’s really nice,” Ananya signs. “And pretty. And funny. And talented. And . . .”
She smiles half-heartedly and places her palms on the sides of my face and slowly runs them down to my neck. She leans forward and presses her mouth to mine with so much force I can feel the fear rolling off of her.
Fear that I put there.
I grab her face and kiss her, doing all I can to erase her worries. The last thing this girl needs is something else to stress her out.
When she breaks apart from me, her features are still full of every single negative emotion I’ve spent the past five years helping her drown out.
“Lakshya?” She pauses, then drops her eyes while she blows out a long, controlled breath. The nervousness in her demeanour twists around my heart and squeezes it. She brings her eyes carefully back to mine. “Did you tell her about me? Does she know?” Her eyes search mine for an answer to the question she should never even feel the need to ask.
Does she not know me by now?
“No. God, no, Ananya. Why would I do that? That’s always been your story to tell, not mine. I would never do that.”
Her eyes fill with tears, and she tries to blink them away. I let my head fall back against the headboard. This girl still has no idea how far I’ll go for her.
I lift my head away from the headboard and look her hard in the eyes. “To the ends of the earth, Ananya,” I sign, repeating our phrase to her.
She forces a sad smile. “And back.”