No Other Love - Part 5
A Writer Gal Novella
I’m writing this edition of The Writer Gal Letter listening to Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman. This, by the way, was the song that basically made In Bed With Her Millionaire Foe’s Barry move sinuously in that last dance porny sequence :P Well, this and Bishop Briggs’ River.
I am a little hungover with my post staycation chill and calm. And I definitely plan on going back there AS soon as I can! (Prolly once I am done with the current stories I have to write).
Here are a few pictures from my time nestled in a pool villa in my very own city. A hideaway of sorts, if you please.
PS: I am 1000% figuring out a way to use this whole setting in a future book. All so I can come back and call it ‘research’.
On to the bookish biz now.
CLAIM AND KEEP ARE LIVE
I don’t have a better way to say this. So, here are the links to the books! I’ll do a central link depository soon but, for now, the books are live on B&N and Amazon!
Here’s a pic of my OG reader - my 87-year-old grandma reading Claim with full concentration! <3
No Other Love - Chapter Five
Now, without any more fuss, let me share the next 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
‘But why’s she sleeping in the other room, Vik?’ A strident female voice spoke in Konkani-accented Marathi. Konkani, being the local dialect of the residents of Aronda.
Anika woke up with a jerk from the first deep dreamless sleep she’d had in months on hearing the voice. She took a deep, calming breath and looked at her surroundings.
The room was painted a neutral cream in color, with one accent wall that was a stunning cerulean blue with a few bulbs and another free-standing lamp like the one in the patio-verandah. The windows were kept wide open and sunlight flooded in. And the bed was the most comfortable thing she’d ever slept on.
‘Viku, tell me?’ The female demanded.
‘I’m not going to discuss my wife with you, Ma,’ Vikrant said quietly.
So quietly, that Anika had to strain to catch the words.
She pressed a hand to her heart, it beat wildly. What was Vikrant doing? Why was he defending her now, when they were all but over? Worse, why was her heart happy at the thought of him doing so?
Vikrant’s mother sniffed audibly. ‘But I was just trying to…’
‘Don’t, Ma.’ Vikrant spoke with a brusqueness in his tone that Anika had never heard before. It sounded colder when he spoke like that in his native tongue. ‘Just don’t. Can you check on lunch? I’ll wake Anika up.’
Anika flopped back down on the bed and turned her back to the door, just as Vikrant opened it. She tried to regulate her breathing back to a circadian rhythm but it wasn’t easy.
She forced herself to lie still as she heard his rubber thongs strike against the terracotta floor and come to a stop next to the bed. Then, Vikrant touched her lightly on the shoulder.
‘Ani,’ he said softly. ‘Wake up. It’s almost lunch time.’
Anika fluttered her lashes open and blinked sleepily at him. ‘Hey,’ she smiled softly.
He smiled back and brushed a stray hair off her cheek. ‘Hey, sleepyhead. It’s lunch time. Made all your favorites. Aamti rice with fried okra and fish curry and solkadi.’ He named all the spicy, fragrant dishes she adored, especially the slightly sour solkadi, a watery stew made from local spices that she’d consumed by the gallon last time she’d been here.
Anika swallowed. ‘Yummy. I haven’t had any food since I sat on that bus.’
‘I know.’ His hand lingered on her shoulder. ‘You get terribly sick on buses.’
Memories, a million of them, coupled with feelings rose between them like a tidal wave.
And Anika had the physical urge to drag him down to bed with her and show him how much she missed him. It didn’t even have to mean anything, and she so wanted to feel alive…
She sat up and dislodged his hand from her body. ‘I’ll be down in a few minutes. Your parents are here?’ She asked the question playing with the edges of the bed sheet on her lap.
‘Yes, they arrived half an hour ago.’
‘Oh. Why didn’t you wake me up then? I could have welcomed them with you.’ She raised accusing eyes at him.
Vikrant shrugged. ‘You needed to sleep more.’ He stepped back from the bed. ‘Get freshened up and come down when you’re ready. Uncle Ramesh and Smita Aunty are also joining us for lunch.’ He smiled. ‘So, you have a buffer.’
‘Thank you,’ she said quickly before common sense made her say something sarcastic. ‘I appreciate the gesture.’
He just looked at her a second more and then left the room.
Anika stared at his departing back in bewilderment. This was all playing out so differently from what she’d imagined in her head. For one, Vikrant wasn’t the golden son anymore if that awkward conversation with his mother was any indication.
For another, she still couldn’t understand why his folks weren’t staying with him when that was the reason he’d given her for wanting to move back home.
My parents are growing old, Ani. And I’m their only son. They’ve done a lot for me. Sacrificed too much. What kind of son would I be if I didn’t take care of them now, when I can afford to? Please understand where I’m coming from.
Thinking about this changed Vikrant was giving her a headache so Anika resolved to not think too much.
She slipped out of bed, spied her bag under the bed. She picked out the clothes she’d decided to wear for the day. A simple geometric pattern tunic and leggings.
Anika bit her lip as a wayward thought struck her.
Vikrant had stood up for her now. He’d not insisted on her going down and welcome his parents, saving her an awkward conversation. And he’d arranged for a buffer for her first family lunch with her in-laws.
The least she could do was dress appropriately.
Anika sighed and reached down for the sari and blouse she’d also packed. ‘Fair’s fair, Anika. You owe Vik for being decent, right now,’ she murmured to herself.
Although she would have preferred paying him back in a far more creative way.
If Vikrant’s mother had any qualms about having a daughter-in-law who lived hundreds of miles away from her son, she didn’t let it on during the family lunch. She was even cordial and almost gracious to Anika when Anika came down in the mauve designer sari with contrasting three-fourths blouse.
Vikrant’s eyes widened at the outfit before he went back to serving his parents at the lunch table. And they almost popped out when Anika went straight to Kaka, Kaki and bent down to touch their feet. Then did the same with his parents.
They smiled and blessed her when she touched their feet.
She gave him a conspiratorial smile. He wasn’t the only one who could be the ideal child, especially when he was on her side.
‘Aunty, I love your earrings,’ she said as she settled into a chair next to Vikrant’s aunt and uncle. And way away from his parents.
‘Thank you, Anika. Raghu got it for me from Thailand,’ Smita told her. Raghuvansh was her son who worked as the vice-president of a bank.
The second generation Pandits were all brilliant in their own ways.
In fact, Vikrant had the distinction of being the first doctor ever in their family. A fact that his mother had taken vicious pleasure in informing Anika when they’d first met. She’d not said it outright but she was aware who Vivek Chakraborty was and how Anika had gotten a seat in medical college through special quota.
Unlike her hard-working, merit-holder son.
‘They’re very pretty,’ Anika said, spooning some spicy-sour aamti over her rice.
Vikrant sat next to her, and two seats away from his parents. Oh dear, that wasn’t going to go down well with Aai.
Anika snuck a quick look at Aai-Baba. They continued eating blissfully.
She reached for the fish curry just as Vikrant did and he jerked his hand away.
Anika smiled and poured some for him first. ‘Enough?’ she asked him innocently.
His fingers clenched on the spoon he held and he nodded.
Anika’s belly jumped at seeing his hairy legs under the shorts he wore. Apparently, he’d given up pretending to wear only full pants around his folks. Or maybe they’d come to some kind of understanding regarding outfits.
This was all so confusing.
She forked a spoonful of the delicious food in and almost moaned in ecstasy. Marathi and Bengali cuisine were almost the same with just enough differences to keep things interesting so food had been a major bonding factor for both of them. And she’d not had this good a fish curry in ages.
‘So, the Ganesh statue installation will happen early tomorrow,’ Aai said abruptly. ‘Vikrant we have to mop and sweep the house and get the decorations in place.’
‘Anika and I will do it,’ he said shortly. ‘You all can rest after such a heavy lunch. Reena is also there and she’s sending her son Sagar too.’ He named the maid and her son.
‘Ma, you’re tired,’ he said firmly. ‘Dad also. You can make dinner with Smita. That’s your job. Anika and I’ll take care of everything else. This is our house and we will do the needful.’
Anika almost choked at his authoritative voice and the casual dominance behind it. And his use of the pronoun ‘our’. FUCK. Why did she have to find this stupidly hot?
Vikrant’s mother’s face fell.
It made Anika feel bad for the woman despite her best intentions. She touched Vikrant’s forearm and felt it tense under the tee shirt he wore. ‘Vikrant, maybe your mom can help us. She knows all the traditions better than me anyway.’ She smiled uncertainly.
He held her eyes a second longer, all intense and hot. And the spit dried in her mouth. ‘No,’ he said as shortly as it had before. ‘This is our festival now. We make our own traditions.’
Then he went back to eating his fish curry and rice like he hadn’t rocked her world with five little words.
To Be Continued Next Month…
What I’m Working On
Blaze!!! Blaze. Blaze! And I’m also happy to share a small teaser with you.
Mili tried to hold the wince in that threatened to erupt on her face. But the second she twisted her arm up to pin her hair, she cried out.
Nihaal crashed into the room from his office. His eyes narrowed as he saw what Mili was doing. “Why are you contorting yourself, Mils?”
Mili did not want to answer him. She simply tightened the towel around her chest and tried to wring the water from her hair again. But she was internally aware the second the rat bastard stepped into the bathroom with her. Taking up all the air around her just by breathing.
“Go away,” she muttered. “I can manage.”
Nihaal grunted. He came to her back, and put one hand on her shoulder. “May I?” he said softly.
Mili breathed shakily. She did not want to like that he asked permission. That he was here at all. She did not like any of this. This was hell for her.
“Be my guest,” she said brusquely.
Nihaal’s fingers left a small trail of callused fire as he touched the bruise blooming on her shoulder. Then, he gently, carefully, with more delicacy than she’d ever given him credit for, set about untangling the length of her hair. Strand by strand, patiently. As if he had all the time in the world.
“I should get it cut,” she said after five minutes of suffocating silence. “It’s too much for me to manage now.”
He combed the last tangled strand out. “Please,” he said softly. His voice echoed in her straining nerves. The tips of her fingers. Her beading nipples. The warmth inside her womb that wanted him despite all the bad blood between them. Her stupid, beating heart.
Then he left as quietly as he’d come in. Leaving her naked and wanting and insane with confusion and lust.
Damn her husband.
I hope that’s enough to get your juices buzzing and you don’t hate me TOOOOO much for making you wait this way for the conclusion of Nihaal and Mili’s explosive marriage of convenience. And also for all the love you’ve shown Burn! <3
Writer Gal Recommends
All of this ‘research’ is in aid of making Blaze the best F1 book ever. So, in no particular order,
Rush - is an insanely good movie about the greatest rivalry in Formula One. Also. That soundtrack? *chef’s kiss*
A Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Matchett - A book by the man who was part of the team that helped Michael Schumacher win the championship titles many times in the 90s.
Everything Everywhere All At Once - It doesn’t have anything to do with F1 but it just might be my most favorite movie of this year because it explains dysfunctional parent-child relationships in the only way that makes sense. With a mom daughter being rocks. (Well, it definitely ties for the favorite). Watch it, if you can!
Writer Gal’s Writer Pals Present
For this week’s TWGL I have a few freebie and sale events to share with you. Check them out and find lots of favorite new authors!
That is it from me for this edition of TWGL, Postmate. I’ll see you next time with lots of Blaze news, including a firm release date and more news about a lovely freebie!
Till then, stay safe and awesome.