No Other Love - 2
The Writer Gal Letter Novella
I’m listening to the official Batman Soundtrack, specifically Something In The Way by Nirvana since I spent two weekends watching it back to back! I cannot tell you how excited I am to reclaim this part of my life again. Watching movies is my favorite thing to do to unwind, especially with a tub of popcorn and hot coffee.
This brings me to …
Question of The Day
What is the first movie you’ve seen in theaters since 2020? And how fond are you of Batman? (who may be possibly definitely will be my muse for Michael Heinrickson of the Stellangard Royals now that I’ve seen the unhinged rage monster!)
No Other Love - Chapter Two
Now, without any more fuss, let me share the second chapter of my sweetly angsty, second chance, marriage in trouble, small-town romance novella starring a desperately nerdy doctor and his feisty surgeon wife!
Author’s Note: I’ll be writing down the English translations of the Indian words to this story, as I introduce you to Indian culture :) If you’d like to read the previous chapter, click here.
Fun fact: This novella is actually set in a town founded by one of my oldest friends. I’ve been fascinated with Aronda since I heard her talk about it back when we studied together and wanted to set a story here forever! Vikrant and Anika’s is the one finally. :D
Anika forced herself to finish updating the charts on the NICU patients before she went to the cafeteria.
She detoured to the doctor’s bathroom first, a fancy affair – with a Game of Thrones style chair and essential oil diffusers and glass tiles. It was the product of a former peds surgeon donating generously to their department and the administration finally heeding the staff’s demands of having a proper lounge.
She looked a mess, Anika acknowledged.
The dark circles under her eyes were ever more pronounced, her roots were showing and her tee shirt under the scrub top was torn in the arm hole. Still, she straightened her ponytail, reapplied light eyeliner and lipstick and squared her shoulders.
‘Tits up, Ani,’ she told her reflection. ‘Obviously, he’s not here for you.’
But I wish he was…
Anika shushed her heart and walked-ran toward the cafeteria. The hospital cafeteria was a spacious, humming space filled with the aromas of vada paav (spicy mashed potato fritters) and stale chai all mixed in with antiseptic and floor cleaner. The lighting was dim and the furniture was functional. But it had a special section reserved only for practicing and visiting doctors.
A group of white coats had gathered around one table and Anika knew, that’s where he was.
Saint Vikrant – holding court with his admiring subjects. Resentment rose up in her throat, killing the pleasure and anticipation of seeing the man she adored and still dreamed of, even though she knew how hopeless it was.
To be fair, Vikrant didn’t court people. In fact, he was aloof and a little shy. Always had been. Even back in college.
She was the one who’d spoken to him after a whole month of utter silence from him during their Basics of Anatomy class. It was just a simple thing, she’d borrowed a pen. But she had done it.
She’d asked him out at the end of the first semester. She’d kissed him on their fifth date. She’d made her ‘move’ during their camping trip summer vacation and they shared a tent. And she’d suggested getting married after they’d both received their job offers.
He’d just gone along with everything.
But not in the end. No, in the end, he’d put his foot down and picked being a damn saint than be with her and support her.
Worse, he’d picked his family over her.
Righteous anger and resentment filled the empty spaces where hopeless love for him still lived in her, so her eyes flashed a special kind of flint when she stalked toward the group.
‘So, tell us about running a hospital for the poor people, doc?’ Dr. Vinod Swamy asked with a snicker.
Anika closed her eyes as she heard her husband’s reluctant laugh. It was low, throaty, entirely too masculine for her peace of mind. It was melting her bitterness and she couldn’t stand it.
‘Don’t be silly, Swamy,’ Anika said, as she shouldered her way to the forefront of the gaggle of admirers. ‘Vik isn’t running a charitable hospital. It’s a small clinic in the middle of nowhere. And,’ she aimed a nasty, vicious smile at poor Swamy. ‘I’ve seen the houses in Aronda. None of them are poor, man.’
Swamy smiled uncertainly, while an awkward silence reigned around the group.
‘Anika, I thought you were in the NICU,’ Dr. Anu said, finally. ‘I was just going to text you but you know how bad the network is on the fifth floor.’
Anu had tried to mediate between her and Vikrant back when a mediation might have actually worked between them.
‘Yep, I know,’ Anika said.
She still didn’t look at Vikrant, even though she knew she had his attention. Say what you will but the man was predictable. If she was anywhere in the vicinity he was looking at her. Silent, with intense focus. Too bad that is all he did.
Talking was not his strong suit.
Anika couldn’t believe she’d found his silent, brooding hot once upon a time. What a silly, immature girl she’d been.
The silence continued for a few more seconds before Dr. Tripathi cleared his throat as his phone beeped. ‘Hey, look at that. I have a patient to look at. So nice to have you back, Vikrant.’ He slapped Vikrant on the shoulder. ‘We have to hang out outside of this hellhole before you leave again.’
‘Sure, Ashok. I’ll text you, okay?’
That was the secret cue for everyone to disperse until it was just Anika and Vikrant at the huge booth.
She remained standing and he was sitting.
He looked the absolute same – same scruffy beard, piercing, unreadable eyes. Maybe he’d lost a little bit of weight around the cheeks but the rest of him looked the same. Tall and vital and strong.
She hated him for it.
Finally, Vikrant broke the silence. He leaned back against the booth, resting one long arm on the headrest. ‘That wasn’t necessary, you know.’
‘What wasn’t?’ Anika kept her eyes trained on his face, even though she wanted to look at his shoulders. She used to sit right next to him, safe in the circle of his arm. Chipku, he used to call her. Sticky. She’d been so stuck on him.
It was horrifying but tears unexpectedly spurted in her eyes. She blinked rapidly, clenching her fists in an effort to stop them.
‘Attacking Swamy and Anu. They were just trying to defuse the situation.’
‘The situation being me, right?’
Vikrant sighed. ‘Will you sit down, Anika?’
‘What for?’ She was scornful because it hurt that he’d come to the hospital and not sought her out first. He’d actually spent time with his friends, their friends, and not even bothered to tell her he was coming.
It just showed how badly their relationship was destroyed.
‘So we can talk?’
‘What do you want to talk to me about? I signed the papers last week, didn’t I?’ Anika whispered.
It had broken her heart, broken her to see those papers. To see the death of the loving hope she’d nurtured when she’d seen this man for the first time, when he’d been just a boy. He was supposed to be different. He was supposed to stay.
But he hadn’t.
Vikrant dropped his eyes at her question, not answering it. Perversely, it made her bold enough to sit down opposite him.
‘Well, I’m sitting now. What did you want to talk about?’
He raised his eyes and looked at her ponytail. It was short and stubby. ‘You cut your hair.’
She shrugged. ‘It was too much to maintain.’
They lapsed into silence for a moment. She remembered how he’d loved to comb it every chance he got and tangle it in his fist right before he brought her to her toes to kiss her. The gesture was so dominating it drove her mad. Right out of her clothes.
‘I see you’re still the same.’ She indicated the ketchup stain on his cute pink shirt. ‘Still a klutz during mealtimes.’
He was one of those secure manly men who had no problems experimenting with colors. In fact, it was one of the rare times they’d bonded over shared playfulness – his love of bold and unusual colors.
He smiled, and rubbed half-heartedly at the stain. It spread further.
‘Is everything okay, Vik? Why are you here?’
‘Forget about me. Tell me about you. Anu told me you’re this close to becoming chief resident. Congratulations, Ani.’
She was confused. He sounded sincere. As if he couldn’t be happier for her. When the exact opposite was the truth.
‘You don’t look…are you okay?’ Vikrant asked, all innocence.
‘I don’t understand,’ she said slowly.
‘You don’t understand what?’
‘You hate my job,’ she bit out. ‘You hate that I chose it over moving to the backwater with you. That I wouldn’t help take care of your parents. Now you’re congratulating me on doing well at my job? What kind of sick game is this?’
‘First of all,’ Vikrant retorted. ‘Aronda is not the backwaters. It is a small town on the border between Maharashtra and Goa. So stop calling it that. Secondly, I never hated your job or your commitment to it. As for the rest, I don’t want to talk about it right now. You signed the papers, didn’t you? We’re officially done.’
She couldn’t believe it but he actually sounded bitter. Bitter and angry.
What did he have to be angry about? He was living the life he always planned for. In the big house he’d been able to rent for his parents in the small town where he was the big doctor. And, best of all, his angry, rebellious, citified wife was nowhere in the picture.
She’d lost everything. She’d bet on a man after what her father had put her mom through because she thought Vikrant was different. And look where she was now. Angry and resentful with premature grey hair before thirty. For shame!
‘Yes,’ Anika said softly. ‘We’re officially done.’
Anika nodded. She made to get up when Vikrant caught her wrist. ‘Dammit, wait, Anika.’
‘What?’ Her skin burned, it actually burned where he touched her. Like she was a wilting plant and he was the sun and she needed his touch to bring her back to life. ‘And don’t touch me without my consent.’
He dropped her wrist and closed his eyes.
‘I’m sorry. I’ve been an ass. The truth is…’ He hesitated. ‘The truth is, I came here to see you. Only you.’
Her stupid heart leaped in her chest at the words she’d longed to hear all year. But she schooled her expression into a mask of indifference and sat back in the seat. ‘I’m listening.’
‘I…’ Vikrant ran a hand through his hair, disturbing strands of it. ‘I need you back, Anika. I need you to come to Aronda with me.’
Anika’s mouth dropped open in unattractive shock.
To be continued next month.
What Am I Working On
BURN has finally been cracked! TOTALLY. Now I just have to sit my butt down in the chair and write! I also am super excited to write a brand-new story for Storytel and this one is so cool and fun with everything I love - nudie shenanigans, a hot mess heroine, a cocky hero with a secret heart of gold, and TECH stuff! Think NERVE meets While You Were Sleeping by way of Hitch. Wish me luck because I have a month to meet both these deadlines, and writing the last twenty pages for SCORE, my steamy sports romantic murder comedy. (I know, it’s ALL that!)
NOTE: I’ll be making a few announcements over the next few days regarding release schedules, cover reveals and all the delicious things so do follow me on social media if you do not want to wait till the next TWGL edition to hear from me.
Writer Gal’s Writer Pals Present
That is it for this week’s TWGL, Postmate! I’ll see you soon with TWO releases and lots more juicy, newsy updates!
Till then, stay safe and awesome.