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Swara couldn’t move.
She couldn’t breathe.
A band of searing heat crossed her stomach. Something heavy weighed on her
chest, the pressure making it difficult to draw air into her lungs. Was she having a
heart attack? What a pair she and Sanskar made; a man with a wounded arm, and a
woman in coronary arrest. Her eyes opened, and two brown orbs stared back at
her. She blinked to bring things into focus.
A canine tongue swept across her lips.
“Pppttthhh.” She spat away his slobber. “Get off my chest, you mangy bag of
bones.” The room was cold. No doubt the fire was out. What time was it? She
tried to roll over to reach the flashlight on the nightstand.
Sanskar moaned at her movement. His arm banded around her waist, his very
warm arm. No, warm wasn’t a strong enough word. Burning would be more like
it. She turned and placed her palm against his face and neck. The man was running
a fever.
She rolled out of bed, trying to organize her thoughts. Holding the flashlight
so its beam illuminated her watch, she saw it was nearly five in the morning. She
hadn’t planned to sleep all night with Sanskar, but snuggling up to him felt so good
that sleep quickly followed.
She let the dog out, noting the snow had finally stopped falling. After stirring
embers to life in the fireplace, she built the fire up and loaded it with wood. When
Major scratched, she let him in. Next, she went looking for a thermometer. Major
padded along behind her.
“Okay, show me where your master keeps the thermometer. Is he organized
enough to put it in the bathroom?”
The dog whined.

“Most men aren’t big on organization, but Sanskar has surprised me on more
than one occasion.” In the bathroom, she opened the medicine cabinet above the
vanity and aimed the flashlight beam over its contents. “Aspirin, Tylenol, Pepto-
Bismol…” She moved items around to see behind them. Her hand stilled.
“Sultamicillin.” She glanced down at Major. “Hmm…take one tablet every eight
hours. Wonder what this was for?” She opened the bottle and glanced in. Six
tablets left. “Evidently your owner doesn’t believe in taking his medicine until it’s
gone like the doctor tells you to do.” Men and their Superman Syndromes. “Ah.
Thermometer.” She snatched it from the shelf, grabbed a clean washcloth, and
headed to the kitchen for a bowl of water. Hands full, she walked into Sanskar’s

He was thrashing around in the bed as if battling some unseen foe. “Sumi…
Swara stopped and watched him. Sumi? They’d talked about her mother, but
why would he call her name? Unless he wasn’t…unless he has a girlfriend named
Sumi. He moaned, a long drawn out sound that set her teeth on edge. Her eyes
narrowed. Exactly what was he dreaming about?
Pain and disappointment swept through her, and she pressed a hand to her
chest. They hadn’t talked about significant others. Why should they? Neither
wanted a relationship. What they had was strictly temporary. Snowstorm s*x?
Blizzard passion? She cringed.
Just my luck to tumble into bed with a guy who’s involved with someone else
and doesn’t have the decency to tell me.

Thank goodness the storm had stopped. As soon as the roads were opened, she
was out of there.
Her brows pinched together, and she sat on the edge of the bed. “Sanskar.
Sanskar, wake up.” She jostled him as he moaned her name.
“It’s me. Stop dreaming about another woman and wake up.” When she got
no response, she dipped the washcloth into the cool water, squeezed it slightly, and
laid the dripping rag on his face.
Sanskar gasped. His eyes popped open. “What the hell?” His hand grabbed hers,
his gaze searching. “What…what’s going on?”

“You’re running a fever.” She depressed the button on the thermometer.
“Here, put this under your tongue.” He dutifully opened his mouth, his eyebrows
furrowed. “And if you don’t keep it there, I’ll gladly shove it elsewhere.”
His eyes widened for a second. “My-mar-mu-missed?”
He yanked the thermometer out. “Why are you pissed? I’m sick here.”
The man had a girlfriend. For all she knew he was engaged. Sumi, indeed.
Murder came to mind. Dismemberment at the very least. “Put that back in your
mouth so I can see how high your temperature is.” No doubt if she stuck the
thermometer under his pants, the tip would blow right off.
She wanted to be the only woman he dreamed about.

Crazy. Pathetic, falling for a man I don’t know at all.
She opened the bottle of aspirin and tapped out a couple. “What were the
antibiotics for? The bottle in your medicine cabinet?”
He rolled his eyes and removed the thermometer. “Pneumonia.” He stuck the
thermometer back under his tongue.
The thermometer beeped, and she checked it. “One-hundred and one point
two. Not life threatening, but I’d guess you have an infection. Here, take these.”
Swara laid the pills in his hand and handed him a glass of water.

“What are they?”
“Aspirin for your fever. Maybe the old antibiotics would help…” She bit her
lip. “But without checking with a doctor first…”
“Better not risk it.” Sanskar dropped the pills in his mouth and drank the water.
“Thanks. Feel like crap. Arm hurts like a son of a b***c.”
She removed the bandage and shined the light beam from the flashlight over
the stitches. The cut was red and looked sore. “I’m going for rubbing alcohol. Be
right back.”
Pouring the alcohol over his wound a few minutes later, she took perverse
delight in his reaction.
“Hells bells, that hurts.”
“I bet.” She leaned over him, resisting the urge to coil her fingers around his

“Jesus, Swara, what’s gotten into you?”
Swara stared at Sanskar. What could she say? He hadn’t done anything. She had
no rational explanation for becoming so very, very angry. Except he’d crept into
her heart when she wasn’t looking and broken it a little. She’d learned long ago
never to become emotionally involved. To bad she’d forgotten the lesson.
“Sorry. I’m just tired. Poor thing, having no one but a city girl to look after
“I wouldn’t want anyone else,” he said in a slow drawl. “No one else but you.”
He sounded sincere… “Let’s see if you feel the same way after I bandage your
arm again.”

He snorted. “Give it your best shot.”
Not immune to his sense of humor, Swara laughed. After cleaning up the
mess she’d made, she looked down at him. His eyes were closed. Hopefully his
temperature had dropped. She hadn’t a clue what she would do if it got worse.
An ache started in her chest. She missed her mom. Her mother would have
known exactly what to do. Swara pressed her fingers to her temples. She could
hear her mother now.

“Sometimes, Swara, you need to let go. You can’t be in control all the time.
Take a risk. Don’t hold love in contempt because it didn’t work for me. It doesn’t
always end badly, the way your father and I did.”
Swara hadn’t argued, hadn’t wanted to disappoint her mother, but she
couldn’t open herself up to the pain she’d felt when her father left and never came
back. She’d been so young. Still, she remembered that lost feeling.
She hadn’t let a man get close enough to hurt her, was determined never to be
dependent upon another living soul. This situation with Sanskar was nothing more
than a timely reminder.

Her glance strayed to the window. The sun was a glimmer on the horizon. It
had been a long night. She turned back to Sanskar. Sound asleep. Reaching over, she
gently felt his forehead. Cooler, she hoped. Relief surged through her along with
an unfamiliar feeling.
Major nudged closer. Turning she patted the top of the dog’s head, “Yeah,
boy. He’ll be okay. I’ll make sure of it.”
Dreams disturbed Sanskar’s sleep. Dreams he thought he’d left behind. Voices
called to him. Voices from the past. The past he wanted nothing more than to
He was in his apartment in Kolkata. The phone was ringing. Someone pick
up the damn phone.
Lifting his pounding head off the pillow, he glanced over at his alarm clock.
Oh, shit! He was late…again. Moaning loudly, he made a mental note never to go
out for an all-nighter on a Monday again, especially when he had an early morning
meeting. His father would kill him when he got back from Tokyo.
He held his head with both hands, trying to make the ringing stop. It didn’t.
The phone. Grimacing, he answered it.

“Michael, is that you?”
“Sahil. Oh, thank God,” he said. Reprieve waited on the other end of the line.
Sahil would cover for him.
“Michael, do you know what the hell is happening?”
Something in Sahil’s voice sobered him. A fire at work. At the Towers.
Impossible. Television. Had to be on television. In a daze, he dragged himself to
the living room and flipped on the big screen TV. He froze as images flashed
before his eyes.

Smoke flowed out of the North Tower. In front of him the South Tower
exploded in flames. He raced to the window of his high-rise apartment, looking
out over the skyline of Kolkata. Clear skies, not a cloud to be seen for miles
except…smoke. Billowing smoke. Turning back to the TV, he watched in horror.
Gray fog choked the streets. People running for their lives. Firemen, policemen
running inside. The top of the North Tower engulfed in smoke. Oh God, no! No.
No. No. Maheshwari Industries sat at the top of the North Tower.
Holding the phone to his ear…he never let go.
“Don’t leave me, Bro.”

“I won’t. I’m here.”
Words merged together. Never could he repeat those words, but he couldn’t
stop them resonating in every fiber of his being.
I can hardly breathe. The smoke. It’s black. Then a calm silence before Sahil
spoke again. I left a message for Mom. Told her I was okay. Tell her…tell her…
“I will…Sahil…Sahil…”
Sanskar bolted upright, soaked in sweat. He caught his breath. For a moment he
was back in Kolkata. No, this was Dehradun. He glanced around to find Swara
looking at him. God, she had the most beautiful eyes. He reached for her.
“You didn’t leave.”

“Did you think I would? Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” He nodded, taking a deep breath, and hesitated before
asking, “Do you mind if I just hold you right now? Just for a little while.”
She didn’t say a word, just climbed in beside him. He wrapped her in his arms
and pulled her close. For the first time in his life, Sanskar wanted more than a briefencounter.
He wanted Swara…….FOREVER AND EVER.!!!!

Credit to: JANPA


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