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You're Just Not My Type - Max's POV
Aka Chapter 2
I’m listening to Tonight (Best I Ever Had) by John Legend and Ludacris as I write this edition of The Writer Gal Letter. I’m BEYOND exhausted but the book is locked and loaded (along with a special bonus scene!) that is so gooey and mushy I about cried when I wrote it. :) I have also managed to send out the ARCs on time (which for me is only a few days early) so guess who is Has Her Shit Together Barbie! :D
For you, my dear Postmate, I have a special treat in store.
Chapter 2 with Max’s POV! Max is such a special hero, for me. Not least because his quiet dominance was a surprise even to me. But mostly because I never thought I’d be able to write a man like Darcy. Prim. Proper. Perfect. Rigid. Not. An. Asshole in general! :P
I am so excited to know what you think of Max and Niva, I’d love to have you answer this poll :D
And now, meet Max Cavil-Rose! Lord of total control.
You’re Just Not My Type - Chapter 2
How in hell did I end up at this dinner?
I asked myself the question for the tenth time while I smiled politely at my dad’s backpacking pal from when they were both young and reckless – Shiraj Pandit. It had taken a fair amount of arm-twisting on their end, including reminding me of our dads’ friendship, to get me here.
I immediately regretted it the second I said yes today.
But here I was. Awkwardly perched on the parlor couch. The coffee table in front of me was perfectly laid out – with a tasteful orchid arrangement and a platter of savory finger food.
Shiraj Pandit checked something on his iPad. The poor thing had dents and scratches on the cover. And I was sure it was filled with WhatsApp forwards, pictures of random things (family and otherwise) and no less than three games of Sudoku, Solitaire and whatever word game uncle could reasonably play. Dads iPads were, after all, the same everywhere.
My own phone buzzed with yet another priority email. (I’d rooted my phone to sort email and only push the most urgent of it all to my personal account. Everything else went to the overflowing office inbox).
I resisted the urge to check it. It was rude and I did not want to be rude five minutes into meeting the Pandits.
Mentally though, I was cursing the Dutiful Son gene that had reared its head up and agreed to this dinner when I had mountains of work waiting for me the minute, I was done with it.
Million-dollar games, after all, did not launch themselves.
“So, is this your first time in New York?” Shiraj asked.
“No.” I shook my head. “I studied in Columbia before transferring to MIT. So, I spent two semesters here.”
“Right, before you decided to drop out in your senior year and launch that video game?”
I kept the smile on my face even though my jaw clenched from tension. Eight years on and still people only talked about my great debacle. Even vague acquaintances who did not know the whole story.
“Something like that,” I murmured.
“Where are your parents now? They aren’t here in the States, no?”
“Mom and dad are actually in London. Visiting my cousins. Mom got bored of dad playing golf after retirement and decided to put their frequent flyer mile points to good use.” I parroted the lie that I had perfected over many, many questions about my parents’ whereabouts over the last few weeks.
“That’s nice. I can’t even think of retiring anytime soon,” Shiraj mused, pensively. “Life here is…”
I nodded. “Dad got lucky with his diplomatic corps position,” I said sympathetically.
I understood Shiraj’s pain. With inflation and rising prices and the fact that no jobs were safe from the robot revolution (fuck you, Skynet) life had become tougher than what it used to be.
Even for CPAs like Shiraj Pandit, who were partners in the firm they worked for.
“And does Jack still drink Patiala pegs?” Shiraj guffawed.
I grinned, feeling more like myself at the bad dad joke. “He actually does. He always says if one has to drink, make it a Patiala peg or…”
“Don’t drink at all,” Shiraj chorused with me.
Aah. I felt human again. After that bitch of a flight from Quebec with the turbulent weather and all the various doomsday messages from the investors ringing in my ears, I was finally feeling easy. Comfortable in my own skin.
Maybe this dinner wouldn’t be so bad, after all.
“Your father worked hard to earn his pegs, you know,” Shiraj said admiringly.
“He did,” I agreed.
This was no lie. My father was a hardworking man. And he’d done his best to provide his family with a luxurious, comfortable life. Considering he was the sole-earning member, he’d done a good job. We had homes in three cities, vacationed in some choice places during school holidays and I did not have the specter of student loans hanging over my head even after I dropped out of MIT to pursue my ill-fated gaming publisher career.
Jack and Monica Cavil-Rose had made sure we did not materially lack for anything.
“It’s a shame they didn’t retire near you,” he commented. “Even though I know you young people prefer having your own space nowadays.” He gave me an uncle-like smile. Veiled criticism wrapped in a compliment.
My smile nearly turned into a grimace. I hid my expression by hastily reaching for the glass of orange juice his wife, Sudha, had shoved into my hand seconds after I entered their tasteful duplex apartment.
They had the kind of apartment I’d always wanted in my childhood. Mine was filled with pristine homes given to us by the diplomatic corps and kept soullessly clean in case some visiting Head of State showed up.
The Pandits’ home was all worn banisters, fresh flowers, homey smells, and framed photographs gracing the walls. Although the daughter quasi-smiled in some of her childhood pictures – dressed in some shiny, traditional costume, her hair in a butt-long braid that could not be her natural hair.
I took a hasty gulp and nearly coughed on the thing. It was sour and sugary and went down the wrong way.
“Have some water, Max.” Sudha rushed in with a huge pitcher of water filled with ice cubes. “Is that orange juice a little strong?” Her pretty, unlined face fell in distress even as she shoved a water glass at me. “You’re not allergic to any of this, are you?” She waved a distressed hand over the laden table.
This time, my smile was more genuine. Moms were the same everywhere too. For the most part. “No, aunty. I am not allergic to anything. I just had dust in my throat.” To prove my point, I took a second, smaller sip and it went down smoothly.
“I was just telling Max what a shame it was, that Jack and Monica aren’t here with him, now that Jack’s retired and Max has this fantastic new job.” Shiraj helped himself to the smoking onion pakoras Sudha served both of us in fancy silverware.
“We can talk about everything later, Shiraj. Let the boy eat first. I’m so glad you enjoy Indian cuisine, Max.” She smiled maternally at me and dumped two more on my plate without asking. Yet another example of South Asian hospitality.
The pakoras smelled delicious, crispy fried batter and caramelized onion. So, I said goodbye to my no-carbs on Sunday rule and tucked in.
I crunched into one. It was juicy and perfect, oozing spices and oil and flour with a hot onion center.
“Aunty, this is heaven.” I toasted her. “I thought Patel uncle on F Street did the best onion pakoras, back when I was in college. Yours beat his, hands down.”
“Thank you. It’s my own recipe and it’s gluten-free chickpea flour, so you can have as much as you want.” She beamed. “I wasn’t sure what you preferred – meat or no meat. I told my husband to ask you what you liked eating so I could make it. But he didn’t do that when he invited you over.” She gave her husband a disapproving, snarky look while smiling wholesomely at me.
Another typical mom move.
I bit down on another pakora, this time dipped in tangy tamarind chutney. My eyes nearly rolled in the back of my head in gastronomic delight. “I eat anything, aunty. I am not fussy like that,” I assured her.
I wasn’t fussy. But I also liked simple, uncomplicated meals than the elaborate spice-and-dairy-fests some of the Indian dishes were.
Besides, this was really super yummy. A well-made taco or a fried burrito had its moments, but this pakora was in a class of its own. “Trust me.”
She seemed pacified by my enthusiasm. Especially because her husband also made similar appreciative noises. Then she looked at the stairs with a little frown.
“Where is this girl? I told her two minutes,” Sudha muttered, almost to herself. She opened her mouth a little wider, as if to shout. Then shut it, her eyes going comically wide.
“Niva!” She squeaked. Her nostrils flared and she looked almost apoplectic. “What are you doing?”
Niva. This must be the Pandit daughter. Only child, just twenty-five. Born and raised in New York since her dad migrated before she was born. She had a degree in communications and literature from one of the NYSU universities and was thinking of starting her own podcast. All of these little details had already been given to me – courtesy of her mom and dad - over the course of the two phone calls I’d had with them.
Sudha gave me a horrified, sideways glance. As if assessing my reaction to the entrant.
My stomach clenched. The food sticking to the sides of my throat.
I suddenly understood why the Pandits were so insistent on me spending my one free evening in New York with them. Something I had avoided the last three times I had a layover from Quebec.
This was no mere dinner.
This was a dinner-date setup!
“I’m helping with dinner, Ma,” the daughter said sweetly. “Like you asked.”
“What is that on your face?”
Niva set down the tray she was holding on the coffee table. I followed its descent with renewed fascination, unwilling to look at Niva Pandit!
I couldn’t whip out my phone and fake a work emergency fast enough.
She turned to give me a full-tilt smile.
“Hello, stranger.” Her teeth gleamed unholy white.
In a face smeared an ugly, shitty brown with a shitty-smelling goo.
NOTE: The pre-order price ends on August 14, 1159PM Pacific Standard Time, so grab it now. And, of course, read it in Kindle Unlimited from release day onwards. :)
You’re Just Not My Type Blurb
Here are four reasons I, Niva, know Max is not for me no matter what my sweet delusional family thinks!
1. He pairs brown sweater vests with glasses like a nerdy engineer.
2. He likes boring dal rice. I'm obsessed with spicy tandoori chicken.
3. He is now (kind of) my boss at the gaming company where I work. And his first order of business? Fire the staff.
4. I actually maybe like this other guy I'm chatting with on the game boards 'for research' even though we've not met yet IRL.
Then I'm forced to work with Max to launch our new game. I begin to see the hot, sweet introvert under the joyless, uptight clothes. In a moment of weakness, I ask him to be my fake date at my frenemy's wedding.
And he agrees!
Between the launch, fake dating, and the tension simmering between us, I uncover his heartbreaking secrets.
But, this doesn't mean I'm falling for my nemesis. Okay?
Because, sorry Max, you're just not my type.
You're Just Not My Type is a feel-good standalone romantic comedy with delicious desi food, gamertalk, a well-meaning interfering family, and angsty MCs who are total opposites with a guaranteed happy ever after.
That is all I have for this edition of TWGL, Postmate. I’ll be back next time with RELEASE NEWS!!! (And, hopefully, paperback updates.)
Till then, stay calm and anticipate YJNTM