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No Other Love - Part 5
A Writer Gal Novella & 2 Important updates!
I’m writing this quick edition of The Writer Gal Letter listening to Sofia Carson’s Feel It Still from the Purple Hearts OST. (It’s on the Blaze OST!) Because Blaze is coming in 2 Days!!!!
For all those who’ve pre-ordered you should get it on your devices on 31st August at midnight, wherever you are!
THANK YOU THANK YOU for all your patience and all the love you’ve given this book and this series! <3 I have tried my damndest to give you the BEST possible love story to happen to two people who genuinely cannot think of themselves as capable or worthy of love, and obsessed with their careers.
A Blaze Exclusive
Here’s a tiny sneak peek from the book which I totally spazzed out and did not share in the previous TWGL! (please excuse my melting brain). This is a scene between Nihaal and a potential investor - Sam Aghar (who is also the hero of the first book of my next series after Ruthless Billionaires :P See what I did there?)
Here’s a handy graphic explaining some of the delicious trope-y goodness you can except in this one!
“This is a beautiful piece of engineering,” Nihaal murmured as he caressed the calf-leather-clad wheel of the 2020 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. “And it does a top speed of two hundred and ninety kilometers per hour. Doesn’t it?”
Sam leaned back in the passenger seat. Tapped at the speedometer. “Why don’t you show us, Mr. Bhatnagar?”
Nihaal grinned. Fast and lethal with just enough of a predatory bite for Sam to give him another look. “I thought you’d never ask.”
He slipped into first gear, feeling the power thrum up his veins from the eight-cylinders firing up inside the engine. Applied the lightest bit of pressure on the gas and watched the windshield zoom as the wheels took off.
“Hmm. No lag,” he approved.
It was almost six am so the busiest Piazza Di Trevi – the tourist and shopping destination in the city – had an almost deserted look.
This would change in half an hour or so when the first café owners would start setting up their au naturel seating and the vendors dotting the circular plaza would appear to set up their wares – mementos, flowers, even fake Italian designer items by the truckload.
But, right now, the cobbled streets of Rome were quiet. Even better, they were traffic-free.
Nihaal slid into second gear and felt the body of the car glide with him, because his butt felt it in the cushioned leather buttressed seat. As the famed Nikki Lauda had once said, ‘I can feel your car in my arse.’
“Now that I have a private audience with the next F1 champion,” Aghar began.
“I still have three more races to go,” Nihaal cut in swiftly without taking his eyes off the road. “I’m no champion.” Yet, his mind whispered. An insidious, inviting promise. The Holy Grail of competition…
“Right. Either way, I have to know, how a boy who did not go-kart in his childhood or even do the rounds of the English racing circuit come to sit in the cockpit of the Menzo Firebird?”
Nihaal gave him a thoughtful look.
The man spoke easily, even informally. It was a departure from the meetings he’d had with the Estonian investors with their spreadsheets and tally responses. But, the fact that he knew something the world did not know made him more dangerous.
“Not everyone has to sit in a go-kart at age three to know they belong in a racing machine, Mr. Aghar,” Nihaal said quietly.
He slid into third gear, stepped on the gas again. The needle hovered at ninety-five miles.
“Senna did. Hamilton did. Even Ricciardo did,” Sam countered.
Nihaal gave him his full attention then, as the car roared out of the plaza and onto the streets of Rome. The engine was a quiet roar, an incoming predator announcing its arrival. Stately and sexy at the same time.
“This is an interview,” he concluded.
Sam shrugged. “I just want to see how you drive. In person. It’s not unreasonable to expect this from a man who expects me to invest eight figures in his business building a machine to compete with this one.”
Fuck you and your money. I have my own eight figures now.
A Special Call For ARC Readers for The Story of Us
I'm only giving away 10 spots to read The Story of Us to advanced reviewers. Because there are 150 of us and it's hectic. 😂 Please read the deets on the slide carefully and then reply to THIS email. I'll connect with you for further details. No pressure if it isn't for you.
What is The Story of Us? A short 6K story about Jordan and Barry's happy ever after from In Bed With Her Millionaire Foe.
Do I need to have read IBW before reading Story? No. Not required. It kind of encapsulates the whole book *very shortly*. But I'd be happy to send you a copy of IBW if you want to read it for your enhancement.
Do I need to post a review on Goodreads and Amazon or any other platform? Yes. Unequivocally.
Am I signing up to read all Aarti V Raman books? No. Just The Story of Us.
For National Read a Book day, DISSENT will be released in eBook and three paperback volumes!
DISSENT is a charity romance anthology with NEW, never-before published content from over 150 authors of various romance subgenres. All proceeds from the eBook and paperbacks will be donated to organizations benefiting reproductive rights in the United States, particularly in areas where people need them more than ever.
Dissent will only be available for a very limited time, so grab your copy today!
🦋 Pre-order the eBook today → www.romancedissents.com
All paperbacks will be available on release day!
No Other Love - Chapter 5
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
‘Ouch. This ladder’s wobbly,’ Anika said three hours later, trying to reach one end of the living room ceiling. She held a colorful dupatta-scarf in one hand and had sellotape bits stuck on her nose.
Anika turned and stretched on her toes. She managed to brace the dupatta on the ceiling and stuck the sellotape so it stayed in place. The sari rode low on her hip so her waist was in profile, the belly button glistening with sweat.
Vikrant’s mouth actually watered as he saw it. He closed his eyes and prayed to all the gods for forbearance. Watching Anika move about in that silly sexy excuse of a sari and be so cheerful and enthusiastic was heartbreak
And driving him slowly insane.
‘That looks pretty no, Sagar?’
She turned again and beamed at Sagar, the teenager who was wearing a slightly hangdog expression. He’d never seen a woman be so openly uninhibited and still jock about.
Anika had made Sagar and Vikrant do all the sweeping and mopping while she laid out the decoration plans and went about turning the living room into a mini-Ganpati altar. They’d done as she asked because it was best to not argue with the woman in charge.
It was turning out beautifully well – the soft, chiffon dupattas (hers with a few borrowed from Smita) gave the whole place a diffused rainbow-like feeling. The mandal – altar - itself was two wooden planks decorated with the traditional rangolis (designs made from color powder) that she’d insisted on doing herself. It had touched his heart to see her struggle with the fine powder used to make the rangolis.
Finally, she’d given up and called his aunt to create them.
They were almost done with all the decorations, apart from arranging the visitor’s silver puja plate.
Anika climbed down the ladder cautiously, holding the pleats of her sari in one hand and the stepladder continued to wobble.
Without being aware of it, Vikrant moved forward and caught the stand of the ladder. Steadied it.
She got down without further incident and smiled up at him. ‘Thanks,’ she said. ‘I was sure I’d stumble and fall and hit my head.’
‘I wouldn’t let that happen,’ he said.
Staring at her moving lips, like a man possessed. There was a tiny drop of sweat at the corner of her lip. He wondered what she’d do if he leaned in and licked at it. Maybe she wouldn’t totally murder him…
‘I wouldn’t blame you if you did,’ she said softly.
He gripped the edge of the ladder and she moved closer to him. Then she touched his shirt and he went a little dizzy. Anika was touching him voluntarily.
‘You dropped food on the shirt,’ she said, just as softly as before.
‘Yeah.’ God, he sounded drunk.
Anika tugged at the fabric once. ‘When will you ever learn to eat without spilling things, weirdo?’
He caught her hand, his intention very very clear in his expression. ‘Never.’
His wife’s lips parted. And a little sound escaped her. A sort of ‘oh’. As if she had never heard the word before.
But she was staring at his lips too. And that gave him courage. Courage to tug at her hand and bring her one inch closer so he could….
‘Vikrant, where’s the tea powder?’ His mother asked from the kitchen.
Anika’s eyes slid in the direction of the voice. She untangled herself from Vikrant and stepped back. The shutters back on her expressive face. Vikrant could have cursed the air blue with disappointment.
His mom had the worst timing ever!
‘I’ll help her,’ Anika murmured.
Vikrant shook his head. ‘No. You don’t know where the tea is. I’ll show her.’
Incredibly, hurt shadowed her eyes before she wiped her face clean. She turned back to the ladder and hefted it. ‘I’ll finish here with Sagar. You can have your chai and then go for a bath before you leave with the men to collect the statue.’
‘You could come too,’ he offered.
The tradition in the Pandit household was that the men picked up the statue from the statue creator whose family lived four streets away and had been supplying them with the idol for generations, right from King Shivaji’s times. And the three times Anika had come home for Chathurthi with him, she’d insisted on wanting to join the menfolk in picking up the idol.
He’d refused her because of what his family would say, especially his mother.
‘It’s okay. It’s not my place, remember?’ She took the ladder away with a small, biting smile. He could only watch her hips sway in the damned sari.
And curse everything in sight, including himself.
‘You look happy, Vik,’ Ramesh Kaka remarked as he joined Vikrant near his hammock.
The idol installation (murthi sthaapan) prep had gone off splendidly, even his mother could find nothing to complain about or criticize for once. And dinner was a feast, prepared by Vikrant’s mom and Smita Aunty, to their best abilities. Tomorrow the rest of the family and all his cousins would descend on Aronda, with most of them staying here with him at his place.
Today, Anika had been a revelation.
She was actually the perfect daughter-in-law for once. She stood silently by his side while they sang the devotional songs to welcome God Ganesha into their home on the first day. She’d actually patiently waited for all the prayers to get done after the idol was placed in the mandal/altar.
And, she’d not once made a snarky remark or rolled her eyes at the pomp and tradition.
Plus, seeing her in a sari was playing hell on his libido.
It was remarkable but pretending to be his wife made Anika a better wife than when she’d actually been one.
It was also sobering because it brought home the unrealistic expectations he’d had of her when they had been married.
‘I…am,’ Vikrant admitted, taking a drag off the single cigarette he permitted himself. He flicked the ash away into the lawn and looked back at the living room, visible through the veranda.
Anika and his aunt were watching something on her phone and they looked… content.
‘Good. I used to worry about you, Vik. When you first came here last year.’
Vikrant didn’t want to think back to those first dark days. Days when he’d walked in a fog and worked himself to exhaustion. When he’d actually considered taking up drinking as a formal occupation because he missed Anika Chakraborty, MD.
When he’d been so angry he hadn’t seen the truth dancing right in front of him. What happened between them was both their faults. Pride and prejudice and love and lust colliding in a terrible mix.
‘You don’t have to worry about me. I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself.’
‘No,’ Ramesh disagreed with him. He squeezed Vikrant’s shoulder. ‘She does that, Viku. She does that for you.’ He glanced back at the living room too and smiled at Anika and his wife squealing at the mobile screen.
‘Don’t forget that.’ His uncle told Vikrant simply before going back inside.
Vikrant felt like shit for the lie he was fostering on his loving, gullible family. It wasn’t fair to them and they wouldn’t really have minded if he told them Anika wanted out. After all, his parents had withheld their approval of Anika for the entire duration of his marriage, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
And it wasn’t fair to her at all.
But…he was happy. After walking in a fog for the better part of a year he was alive again today. And he was a selfish bastard because he wanted to keep feeling alive, keep her for a few more days.
After all, it harmed no one. And she was having fun too. He knew her too well to know when she was faking it and when she was genuinely enjoying herself. And she was genuinely enjoying herself.
So what if it was all a lie, right?
To Be Continued Next Month…
That is it from me for this edition of The Writer Gal Letter, Postmate! I am so psyched and buzzing with all the release day prep and work! But it’s also birthday month from here on out so YAYY times! I’ll be writing in exactly three days to share release day awesomeness AND pictures from my mom’s birthday which we celebrated over the weekend. :D
Stay safe and awesome.