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And A Moon Update

Mahalo Postmate,

I’m writing this edition of The Writer Gal Letter listening to the epic Grey’s Anatomy Soundtrack, which formed the bedrock of Dev and Zara’s Wedding! Some songs just stay with you forever, don’t they?

As do some characters.

Like the Geeks.

And the Foes. And all of my other hot and rich as Hades men who do *not* make it easy on me when I try and tell their stories. (I’m looking at you, Michael!) Can you tell this is my sneaky and snarky way of telling you guys that I’m working on our Most Conscientious Prince and I’ll get you guys a release date (and other news), ASAP!

Anyway, as promised in A Filthy Rich Geek’s Wedding, right below are the BONUS CHAPTERS for the novella! I’ll just quickly share WHY I just had to do this exclusive bonus content for a teeny story set over a weekend.

Writing in all the characters from the other series into Dev and Zara’s wedding was a perfect way for me to unite my family of amazing, screwed up, totally angsty, and awesome characters. Both past, present, and future.

But, when I finished writing it, I realized that Bharat, my sweet-hearted bad boy, did not get adequate scene time. So, of course, I had to give him one. And, of course, then the orphaned boy had to get his very special happy ever after with a family on the way.

It is kind of a deliciously full-circle moment, isn’t it?

So, this is just my way of giving Bharat and Sophia a moment of their very own.


A FILTHY RICH GEEK’s WEDDING BONUS CHAPTERS

One

“I need your help.” Kavya hooked her arm around the man guarding the wedding cake – a two-tiered tiered delicate confection made of vanilla buttercream with a hint of red velvet and, at the bride’s request, gluten-free Oreos stuffing.

The cake was a simple circle with twirls of flowers – sunflowers and blush-blue zinnias – to echo the theme of the wedding itself made of organic paste, instead of the xantham gum fondant.

Xavier Rodriguez, the chef who’d slaved for twelve hours over this particular cake, gave her a mild look. “Can it wait, Kavya? It’s almost time for the cake-cutting.”

He nodded at the blissfully waltzing couple on the makeshift dance floor, now that the actual rituals of the wedding was over.

Dev looked resplendent in his groom’s outfit and Zara glowed, as if lit from within as she pressed her cheek close to her husband’s, eschewing the traditional rules of the waltz.

The song playing softly over the speakers was Sheryl Crow’s ‘I Shall Believe.’

They had eyes for no one but each other.

Dev tried to dip Kavya and she shrieked as her dupatta slid down and tangled between their legs. He grabbed it and, for good measure, lifted her off her feet so she stood on his toes. And they resumed shuffling about.

The wedding party sighed as one, in a collective ooh.

Kavya, ever the vigilant candid photographer, took a quick picture of Zara laughing in delight at Dev’s impromptu dance move. She was slightly off balance but secure in the knowledge that the man holding her would never knowingly let her fall.

Xavier felt an acute shaft of pain where his heart used to be as he saw the chivalry Dev displayed.

And he almost hated this happy couple for being so in love, at that moment.

~~~~~

“They’re gorgeous,” Kavya murmured in an aside. “I mean, they all are. All of these people, but Dev and Zara are freaking gorgeous.”

“Why do you say that?” Xavier asked.

Kavya showed him the picture she’d just taken of them both.

The lighting was soft, suffused with the millions of LED string lights that Dev had insisted on. And the arch of the flowers, demarcating the mandap, made an excellent romantic backdrop.

But, it was just them.

The magic of Dev and Zara – almost similar in height. Tall, regal people with good manners and a good heart.

It had nothing to do with their five-figure wedding outfits, or the perfection of their makeup (even Dev wore a little concealer and foundation to cover up his dark circles) or their freaking privileged genetics.

It was just them.

Two people exquisitely, wonderfully in love.

Xavier couldn’t wish himself far enough away from this venue, this wedding and this people fast enough. Only the knowledge of the fat bonus check (six figures for bringing it under budget) and Mal’s wrath kept him rooted to the spot.

He wanted out.

“Yeah, they’re stupid good-looking,” he said morosely. “And, like all good-looking people, they gravitated toward each other in the end. And lived happy ever after.”

Kavya squeezed his arm and leaned her head on his shoulder. Well, his right bicep, since she was a tiny thing compared to his six-two height. And she was slight too, with it. Not like…

Xavier ruthlessly pushed the name and memory of her away. Today wasn’t for brooding. It was for working.

“I miss her too, Xav,” Kavya said quietly. Sadly. “I miss her every day. But I wish you’d know what I know.”

“Are you going to offer me some fucking platitude about time healing all wounds, Kavya?” Xavier growled, his Latin American heritage showing through in his vowels because he was agitated.

Working toward enraged.

“No.” Kavya shook her head. “I’d not do that. Because it’s beneath me.” She looked him up and down.

He knew he looked barely presentable. He wore his chef’s uniform – spotless white apron and coat – with his name stitched on the lapel. And he had on black trousers underneath. But his beard was several days’ growth now and inching toward unruly and his curly hair had a life of its own.

Plus, he’d dipped into the Prosecco while making the cake. Generously.

And it showed.

“And it’s beneath you.”

Her quiet words of condemnation hurt him more than he wanted them to. And he wanted to lash out at her.

For attempting to make him feel better. For attempting to make him see reason.

He gave Kavya’s shorts and jersey shirt with one shoulder sliding off, ensemble a derisive glance. She even wore kicks with it, her standard attire when she was working a shoot. “Well. At least, I’m not dressed like a frat boy.”

Kavya’s lips trembled a hot second before she firmed them. She nodded, pushed her hair back. “Okay, then. If that’s how you want to play it.”

~~~~~

Xavier felt sick.

He’d hurt Kavya for no reason than because he could. Shame and anger rose up in an acrid combination inside him, burning his gut and tangling like a hot rock in his throat.

He caught her slight wrist when she turned to leave. “Kavu…”

“Let me go.” She twisted his hand and bent it back to a painful angle.

It was a move he’d taught her himself when she was fifteen and about to go on a date with a sleazeball cricket captain.

Zack hadn’t been around, so he’d done the deed for him. Because that is what you did for your best friend’s little sister.

Xavier yelped but kept his swearing to a sub-vocal murmur. “I was just trying to apologize, Lara Croft.” His mutter was both hurt and peeved. “You didn’t have to break my arm.”

“I didn’t. I wanted to,” she muttered back, twin spots of angry color staining her cheeks. “Fuck you, Xavier. You don’t deserve my kindness.”

Xavier nursed his injured hand, and wondered at how he could apologize to her and mean it. Then he sighed. “What is it you need my help for? I’ll do it.”

Kavya gave him a disdainful look. “I don’t think so.”

“Kavu, please,” he insisted. He almost went to touch her again. But knew it wouldn’t work. So his fingers just drifted short of her soft, scented skin.

How did she have such strong and delicate hands at the same time?

“Don’t try and make nice with me now, Rodriguez.”

“Please? Pretty, please? I’ll even cut you a slice of the wedding cake before everyone else.”

Her lips twitched because sugar was her one-great love. And no one knew to use sugar better than two Michelin-star earner Chef Xavier Rodriguez. “It’s got oreos. And vanilla buttercream frosting. And red velvet layers.”

Her eyes gleamed with lust, a honey color that arrowed a shot of heat into him. Him.

Xavier blinked.

What the fuck just happened?

~~~~~

“But if you don’t want it…”

“I do,” Kavya cut in swiftly. “I want the damn cake.”

She huffed out a breath.

It thrust her breasts out in the stupid, all-purpose jersey she wore. Clinging to the soft, weighty shape of them.

Xavier blinked again.

What was wrong with him? This was Zack’s baby sister. This was Kavya. And she was so not his type. She wasn’t a tall, statuesque blond with bouncy breasts and a laugh that walked a mile ahead of her!

He couldn’t want anyone but her.

“Fine,” Kavya sighed out. “You can come and help me set up. We can use one of the gazebos at the other end of the gardens here. And maybe a couple shots under the sycamore trees.”

“Awesome. But, set up for what?” Xavier asked mechanically as he desperately tried to shut away unruly and untrue feelings back inside his chest.

Kavya grinned, a diabolical grin as she took a huge bite out of a passing tray of hors d’ oeuvres. The mini paneer patty he’d fused with beef vindaloo. “It’s a candid maternity shoot for Sophia Kulashreshtha and Bharat Shrinivasan.”

Xavier shook his head, even though his heart shrank into a thumb-sized organ and shattered inside his chest.

He had, he realized, been most definitely had.

But a deal was a deal so he’d follow through with it.

“You have a cruel streak in you, Fisher,” he commented lightly.

“All the better to torment you with, Rodriguez,” Kavya said cheerfully.

And, for good measure, she even took a snap of him glaring at her. Before they loaded up on her travel equipment and left for the shoot site.  

Two

“We shouldn’t leave the wedding. The cake’s barely been cut,” Sophia protested breathlessly.

“Of course, we can. We’ve had the excellent food, danced with the happy couple and hugged everyone at least twice. We can totally leave.”

Bharat led her away from the shamiana where music played loudly and the sounds of cheering and people clapping filled the air.

Dev and Zara were wedded.

Again.

Bharat was a logical man.

He was wildly in love, happily married, terrified of impending fatherhood yet eagerly anticipating the next step of adulting.

But, for the life of him, he couldn’t understand how Dev could be this romantic. To marry Zara once was a given.

It was a social construct and a promise they made each other.

They could have just done the whole wedding vows thing and got a marriage license to make it all legal instead of this elaborate desi shaadi malarkey!

“You’re frowning,” Sophia observed.

“You won’t understand,” he muttered.

Sophia had been full of smiles and sheer fizzy happiness when she’d come back with Lily and Naina in that ridiculous display of a car this morning.

And she’d even dragged him off for an afternoon nookie when she’d spotted him after his so-called salon appointment.

Not that he was complaining but she possessed the X chromosome and so was automatically geared to ‘awww’ at such extravagant displays.

He just couldn’t wrap his head around it.

“Try me,” she invited. Stopping him in the middle of the spectacularly-maintained lawns of Sycamore Drive. Halfway between their destination and the wedding tent.

“Talk to me, Bharat,” she invited. In that Sophia way she had.

Soft and gentle, non-judgmental.

He was putty in her hands.

~~~~~

Bharat shrugged. A little stiff around the shoulders, because he was embarrassed and a little apprehensive of her reaction. “I don’t get the whole Zara and Dev deal.”

“What deal?”

“Two times?” He shuddered. “I had enough trouble saying my vows once, Sophie. How can they think of doing it twice? Why would they want to…?”

“It’s romantic, Bharat. It’s sweet and perfect and them,” Sophia answered.

“It doesn’t seem plenty romantic to me.”

“Well, technically, neither is asking a girl to jump off into empty air from the roof of Sydney Opera House. But you did that, didn’t you?” Sophia reminded him.

“That was different,” Bharat muttered. “That was a fun thing.” He gave her a quick look. Wary and diffident. “Wasn’t it?”

“Of course, it was, dummy.” Sophia leaned up and kissed his cheek.

Their Butterball brushed his side and he felt the warmth and weight and weft of his child growing in her, unman him.

Remake him.

Every single time he was near Sophie and he touched her belly, it felt new to him.

As if he was the single luckiest bastard on the planet.

He brought her closer, wrapping one strong arm around her expanded waist. Feeling his child grow under her heart. “Explain why I’m a dummy when Dev is the one going through a whole production for no apparent reason.”

“Because, taking me on a gravity-defying ride was romantic for you and me,” Sophia replied. “That was our love language. Dev and Zara’s is theirs. It is the thing that helps them connect, uniquely and specifically with each other.”

She patted his chest, comfortingly. “So if what they needed to get through this production is to have their very own Adam and Eve moment last night, then that’s what they needed. I’m just really glad they were able to get there.”

“Why would you say that?”

Sophia shrugged. “That’s not my story to tell.”

Bharat smiled, knowing how crazy loyal his wife was. Even with new girlfriends she’d just met. It was one of her best traits.

“By the way,” he began casually, resuming their walk to the gazebo. “Dev and I were talking about it at the salon and he is willing to try Nakul at an executive position while he’s away on honeymoon to Bali.”

“The honeymoon’s happening then.” She gave a satisfied nod. “That’s just what they need. Some alone time, away from the stress and distraction of their high-powered jobs.” 

“Remember ours?” He reminded her.

Sophia rolled her eyes. “How can I forget? I was sick for most of the time. Throwing up on top of the Eiffel Tower was pretty fucking unforgettable.”

“Hey, language.” He placed a warm palm on her belly and immediately felt his son, he was damn sure it was a boy, kick up in response. “That’s a small baby in there.”

“Feels like a giant whale sometimes.”

Bharat grinned. “Irregardless, Sophie.”

She glared at him in exasperation. “You know I hate it when you use that word.”

“Sorry.” But he wasn’t, because he bit the inside of his cheek.

And he looked happy. Really happy.

~~~~~

He felt happier than he looked. And he’d been happy every single day he spent with her. In her company.

Watching her nourish their child under her breast, watching her wash the damn dishes or plait her hair before she sat down to finish an assignment.

For a man, who’d spent a good part of his life gambling on his ridiculous talents with numbers and keyboards, he’d lucked out on a game of cards and found the love of his life.

The romance of that irony wasn’t lost on him.

“You’re just doing it to annoy me.”

“I am,” he confessed without a qualm. “But it was just a nice side benefit to the real reason.”

“The real reason?”

“The real reason I hustled you out of the party.”

“What’s that?”

Bharat paused in front of the stone gazebo, with intricately carved figures perched on the rotunda roof. It was a good-sized structure with plenty of natural light and a fantastic background and foreground.

In other words, a great spot for an impromptu photo shoot.

“I’ve always regretted not having more than a single photo of our wedding day, you know.”

Sophia softened, her plumb cheeks firing up at the softly voiced words.

He knew she heard the underlying possessiveness and love and sheer humility that gripped him when he thought of how close he’d come to losing her, through his own colossal stupidity.

“Oh, Bharat,” she breathed. “I don’t regret us. Any part of us. Not for a second. Even with the lack of wedding photos.”

“Neither do I,” Bharat said, instantly. Reassuring her. Not that she needed it.

Sophia Shrinivasan was a most well-loved wife on the planet and she was quite smug about it. 

“But,” he said softly, persuasively. Bending down to brush noses with her. Feeling Butterball plop between them. “I would like to rectify the lack of professionally shot photos, now that we are about to become Mama and Papa.”

She put trembling hands around his waist and stood on her toes. “Mama and Papa,” she echoed, shock popping her chocolate-brown eyes wide. “God! That makes it real.”

“It’s as real as it gets.”

“It’s a little cheesy, you know,” Sophia murmured sheepishly. “I mean, all of my school friends in Delhi had these elaborate shoots with like thirty outfit changes and I always laughed at them. Because I never saw the point.”

“I need it,” Bharat admitted rawly. “We don’t have to blow it up on our living room wall or share it on social media or with another soul but Soph…you look so incredible, so vital right now. I want to remember this always. In here.” He touched his heart.

“And on paper, too.”

He pulled her the necessary inch toward him and kissed her. Softly, gently, but with all the love he had for her.

This woman who had saved him when she could have destroyed him. Loved him when he’d been the reason her life was upended irrevocably.

Fear turned the kiss a little desperate, as he speared his fingers into her perfectly waved hair, and held her still. Chasing her honeyed tongue and squeezing it so he could remind himself, all over again, that they were, in fact, real.

Sophia’s eyes were dazed, hazed with pleasure when he set her back down on her feet.

Her lips were thoroughly kissed. She gripped the front of his kurti with surprising strength.

And, there, right there at the base of her neck, at his favorite spot, a pulse beat a furious tattoo against the delicate membrane of her skin.

“Bharat.”

“Sophia.”

He laid a hand on her protruding belly. And he hoped to god she could see everything he felt, everything he was and had become. And he hoped he was enough.

Her lips parted as a gentle puff of air escaped it. And a gentle summer breeze stirred her hair against him.

~~~~~

“HOLD it,” Kavya Fisher shouted. “Hold it. Right there.”

She practically ran down the steps and stood a few feet from them. Directed the angle of their hands, and necks, creating a simple but elegant silhouette.

And shot pictures; muttering instructions all the while.

“I was wrong.” Chef Xavier Rodriguez declared. “This is torture.” He patiently carried her change of lenses and handed it to her when she asked for it.

“Shut up, Xav. I’m working.”

Bharat and Sophia grinned at each other, and allowed the photographer to do her thing.

And, Bharat knew as he’d known when he’d asked for this photo shoot, that he really didn’t need memories of these moments on paper.

That was just extra insurance for the deficits of time.

The truth was, he’d carry the image of Sophia gently cradling their little bit of heaven in her hands, smiling softly, secretively, matronly at it, as only a mother could, for the rest of his years.

And it was the best one of all the memories he carried of her, in his heart.

He couldn’t wait to make more.

“You coming, Papa?” Xavier Rodriguez asked him, breaking his reverie with the prompt. “The photographer requests your presence.”

Sophia beckoned him inside the gazebo. Another soft and secretive smile on her lips. This time just for him.

And he went, a pied piper answering his call. Towards the beginning of his happy ever after.

THE END

I hope you are happy with this mini HEA I gave our geeky bad boy and his beloved Sophia. And are sufficiently intrigued by these wedding planners, who, by the way, I am slowly becoming obsessed with - along with Shane, Michael, Nihaal, and Nashit :P


A Writers On The Moon Update

In my former career as a tech journalist, one of my favorite beats to cover was space tech.

And, I have a few stories I’d like to tell someday about peeps who live beyond our sky but, the long and short of it is - I was fortunate enough to cover the launch of Jeff Bezos’ (the dude who runs Amazon and makes it possible for you to read my stories) space company Blue Origin.

Blue Origin is designing the engines for the rocket that is taking the Writers on The Moon to the moon. And it is going to be ready only by late 2021.

So, for now, The Millionaire Foe series is earth-bound :D

I do have a small request of those who have read the Series to please review it on Goodreads. I’d be so grateful if you could. And if you can’t I love you anyway!

Writer Gal Recommends

Today’s recommendation is just a freebie from an amazing PNR writer, Aidy Award. Yes, the same Aidy who has been such an immense help in figuring out my spanking new covers and everything else to do with Aarti V Raman. Not only is she a warm and friendly author friend; she writes INSANELY good and smexy romances starring super hot shifters.

So, I’m sharing the link to the first book in her series, which is absolutely FREE for you to try!

Here you go.

Download Rebound

That is it from me for this week, I’ll check back in with more news before the month is out.

Till then, stay safe and awesome,

Xx

Aarti